Orzo, the rice-like pasta, has always been at the top of my list of comfort foods. It has such a nice texture and shape. It is also known as risoni, which means large grains of rice. All it really needs is a little herbaceous olive oil, black pepper, and parsley, or parmesan, depending on how healthy you are. I add both.
Just like rice, it is ideal for serving with sauces, stews and soups. It can also be made into a risotto-style dish, orzotto. I love it with beef stifado and make it whenever I can get my hands on some pearl onions. Stifado is an ideal recipe to make in the slow cooker because it benefits from slow, slow cooking. The rich Greek stew is delicately flavored with cinnamon, the sauce is thick and succulent, the slow-cooked beef is tender and falls apart with the touch of a fork. All it takes is a simple orzo on the side.
I love leeks this time of year. I would prefer a bunch of leeks to everyday flowers because they are so versatile and can be made into so many things. Their allium sweetness is just perfect with Dijon mustard. In this recipe, they balance each other well, with a little acidity from the yogurt. I’m using thick Greek yogurt from Glenisk here. It contains cream, so it’s really ideal for that. You can also use crème fraiche or heavy cream and a squeeze of lemon juice.
I used chicken here because it’s such a classic pairing with the creamy thyme sauce. You can, of course, serve the orzo on its own with a big green salad, because the parmesan cheese makes it so rich. It’s also a fantastic side dish for roast chicken, or served with sautéed kale or spinach.
I often make a version of this dish and add a handful of leftover roast chicken, cherry tomatoes that burst while simmering, and baby spinach added at the last minute. It is more colorful and contains additional vegetables. The leeks simply blend into the bottom of the creamy sauce. A real family favourite.
Recipe: Creamy Leek and Chicken Dijon Orzo