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    A basic Mediterranean ingredient that pleases and cares for your health

    Mediterranean cuisine is one of the richest and most varied gastronomy styles in the world. Its history and the geographical location where it has developed has allowed the exchange of ingredients, cooking techniques and dishes among the different civilizations that have thrived along the coastline of the Mediterranean sea.

    Many ingredients and dishes originating from Greece, Cyprus and even the Middle East are frequently found in Western European cities. A perfect example of this is orzo.

    Orzo is a dried pasta the size of a grain of rice, very fashionable for its dietary properties and quickly became a healthy alternative. 

    Today you will learn more about this delicious style of pasta and we will show you an exquisite Orzo Salad recipe with which you will be able to taste and enjoy. 

    Let’s get to know this important ingredient of Mediterranean cuisine. In the meantime, if you’re looking for another orzo recipe, you can try this lemon chicken orzo soup recipe that will not disappoint you. 

    Orzo: a great taste in a small size 

    Orzo is an ingredient of Italian origin that falls into the category of dry pasta. It is a pasta based on durum wheat semolina. Its name means barley -from the Latin hordeum-, but its shape is like that of a flattened and more elongated grain of rice.

    In Italy it is very popular -known as risone– and it is also used in other Mediterranean countries, such as Greece, Turkey or Cyprus, where it is known as kritharaki. Moreover, in some countries it is used as if it were couscous, since practically the same traditional couscous preparations can also be made with orzo. 

    This product can be found, like other pastas, dried or fresh and both neutral taste or flavored and colored with spinach, carrots, beets, etc., all of these give a very appetizing touch to any recipe. There is also a whole grain version of this cereal, also known as puntalette.

    One of the most versatile ingredients 

    Although orzo is an ideal pasta for preparing soups, it goes also perfect in salads and to accompany all kinds of meat, chicken and fish stews, and even as a base for stuffing peppers, eggplants or zucchini

    Its rice grain shape and its capacity to absorb water or broth also allows it to be used to prepare paella or risotto, but the cooking time must be carefully monitored so that it does not overcook.

    Orzo is also used to prepare a drink known as caffè d’orzo or barley coffee, which does not contain caffeine and is made from roasted and ground orzo beans. It is actually a type of infusion that can be prepared in a coffee pot.

    Nutrients and energy in each intake

    We all need carbohydrates in some quantity because it is the brain’s preferred fuel and provides the fastest source of energy for the human body. Orzo fulfills this function splendidly because it is abundant in carbohydrates, making it a great source of energy.

    As for fat, orzo contains just one gram per half cup, so on its own it doesn’t offer the benefits (or drawbacks) that come with a large amount of dietary fat. However, you can combine orzo with delicious sources of fats such as olive oil, avocado or olives and reap benefits such as better cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease and a healthy brain.

    Orzo is impressively high in protein content: up to seven grams per half cup; which is even more than you get from a full cup of oatmeal, considered one of the most protein-rich grains. Also, the whole-grain orzo variety can keep you full for a long time, especially if you combine it with vegetables, meat, poultry or fish.  

    Orzo pasta is proven to contain a high amount of vitamin B. If you consume enough vitamin B every day, you will be safe from some diseases, such as insomnia, anemia, acne and even heart failure.

    A tasty and healthy orzo salad

    Below you will find an exquisite Orzo Salad recipe that will provide the carbohydrates, nutrients and energy you need in the healthiest way. Check below its ingredients and how to prepare it.

    Ingredients

    • ¾ cup or ¼ box of orzo pasta.
    • ¼ cup of fresh yellow bell peppers, diced.
    • ¼ cup of fresh red bell peppers, diced.
    • ¼ cup of fresh green peppers, diced.
    • ½ cup of fresh red or Vidalia onion, diced.
    • 2 cups of fresh zucchini, medium cubes.
    • ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
    • 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
    • 1 tsp. of lemon zest.
    • 3 tbsp. of grated Parmesan cheese.
    • 2 tbsp. of fresh rosemary, chopped.
    • ½ tsp. of black pepper.
    • ½ tsp. of dried oregano.
    • ½ tsp. of bell pepper flakes.

    Preparation mode

    1. Cook orzo pasta according to box directions, drain and let stand (do not rinse).
    2. Sauté peppers, onions and zucchini over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet until translucent.
    3. Mix lemon juice, grated lemon zest, ¼ cup olive oil, cheese, rosemary, pepper, oregano and red bell pepper flakes in a large bowl.
    4. Add the sautéed vegetables and orzo pasta to the large bowl, and stir gently and enveloping until well blended.
    5. Chill or serve at room temperature.
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