Properly called a pastina, orzo resembles a rice grain and it is highly accepted in Mediterranean cuisine. It is made from semolina flour and it can be used in soups, risotto-like dishes and more. It is a classic side dish and it is the perfect alternative for both rice and other pastas. You can find some orzo-based recipes here https://riceselect.com/product/orzo, but before that, let’s get into the nutritional aspects and the benefits behind this amazing ingredient.
Orzo comes in different types and, naturally, they all have different nutrition facts depending on how they are made. However, by general rule, these are the nutrients you will find in half a cup of orzo.
Half a cup of orzo has something of 41 g of carbohydrates. Contrary to what many so-called dietitians want us to believe, cars are necessary for us and our bodies to function properly and optimally. These are what we call our fuel. It boosts our brains allowing us to think straighter and focus on whatever we have to do during our day. Moreover, they are a must for anyone who practices sports or has a daily workout routine. Orzo is packed with carbs and that is why it is a great option for a side dish.
When compared to most pasta, orzo is packed with proteins, it has 7 g of them. This is usually what a cup of oat has. Proteins are of the essence when we are working on growing our muscles and they are also good for our bones and tissues. An ingredient that is delicious and full of proteins can easily become a staple in your diet.
Minerals and vitamins
When the orzo comes from whole grains, it contains a good amount of vitamins and minerals. You’ll find those under the names of niacin or thiamin, for example. Make sure you get whole grain orzo to have your suggested intake of vitamins. Orzo that comes from refined grains is usually enriched which means the vitamins are added back in.
The healthy fat intake in orzo can come from combining it with some other fat sources like avocados, olives or olive oil. On its own, it does not contain much fat, so it doesn’t really bring anything to the table. The good thing is that it doesn’t take anything either.
Why include it in your diet?
Do not fool yourself, the benefits of orzo on its own are only so many. The greatest thing about orzo is that, as rice, it can be combined with a great deal of healthy ingredients making your dishes much appetizing to the eye and the taste. That is why, among all the pasta you might know and like, orzo is maybe the best option.
Moreover, and because of all the nutrition fat outlined before, this little but powerful ingredient will keep you full of energy. As it is packed with carbs, orzo will definitely give you the boost you need to keep working, for example, after lunch. However, it is not as heavy as any other pasta can be. This will prevent your digestive organs from sucking all the fuel, instead, your energy will be divided allowing you to keep going while you’re digesting your meal.
A consequence of these aspects is that orzo is a very filling option for lunch. The fiber packed in just half a cup of orzo, the suggested portion for a side dish, will keep you full for a long period of time. If you want to strengthen this characteristic, try having an orzo-based salad. The orzo together with the vegetables will keep you more than satiated.
How to cook it
Nothing was said about how easy it is to cook it, but we’ve saved the best for last! Orzo is super easy to cook and can be stored in your fridge for at least three days.
Just like any other pasta, you will only need some boiling water with a pinch of salt. Cook orzo over a simmer for just eight or ten minutes and drain it after that time. If you want to enhance the flavor, pour some olive oil in the boiling water, that will also prevent orzo from clumping.