Pasta cooked like a risotto? Yes, it can be done and in the end you are left with a very creamy dish of pasta. Pasta Risottata is a cooking technique where you cook the pasta directly in the pan, adding water or stock a ladle full at a time. As the pasta absorbs the liquid it cooks, releasing all the starch that stays in the pan and helps create a smooth creamy consistency while helping to bind the sauce you are making. You do have to watch closely as adding too much liquid can overcook the pasta. This technique works great with smaller shapes of pasta and I decided to use, what I think is an underrated pasta shape, orzo. Shaped like a grain of rice and has a nice toothsome bite when cooked, I loved making this recipe. The zucchini and Kalamata olives go great together and creates a nice condiment to go along with the orzo. Hope you enjoy.
ORZO WITH ZUCCHINI AND KALAMATA OLIVES
Recipe by Mark Calaminici | Food Loves Company
900ml stock or water, heated on stove
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
500g or 2 medium-large zucchini , diced
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Chili flakes, to taste
130g Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ small red onion, finely chopped
1 small-medium wedge of lemon juice
15g or 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
1. In a small stock pot, heat stock or water and keep at a simmer.
2. In a large pan on medium to high heat, heat 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil. Add zucchini and season with salt, freshly cracked pepper and chili flakes to taste. Saute until the zucchini has softened and remove as much moisture from the zucchini as you can, higher heat can help with this. Add Kalamata olives and saute until the olives have warmed through. Remove mixture to a bowl and set aside.
3. In the same pan on medium heat, heat 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil. Add garlic and onions and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Saute until garlic is tender and onions are translucent. Add orzo and 2-3 ladles of stock/water to the pan, stirring often as the liquid absorbs into the pasta. Continue to do this as the liquid gets absorbed each time until the pasta is al dente. You have to be careful with this process, especially towards the end as adding too much liquid near the end can end up overcooking the pasta.
4. Add in the zucchini and olive mixture, mix to incorporate everything. Then add lemon juice and parsley, mixing to incorporate everything. Remove pan from heat or turn off heat and add as much Parmigiano-Reggiano as you like, mixing to incorporate everything. Garnish with more fresh parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Until next time, ciao!