Jamie Geller on What to Do With Orzo

October 24, 2012
Please note: fresh fruit and vegetables need to be inspected for insect infestation. Please consult our guide

Meet Orzo – what I call “Supergrain.” It looks like a large grain of your mild-mannered rice, but it’s really a form of pasta that can stand up to any recipe and leap tall buildings in a single bound. If it’s made from semolina (milled durum wheat, a “hard” variety), it will remain resilient in cooking, and can even be simmered in a stew or baked without losing its chewy character. Let it become your new all-purpose best friend in the kitchen.

The name is Italian and it means barley, because orzo used to be made from it rather than the wheat varieties used today. It’s terrific in soups and you can use it as a side or cooked into all kinds of dishes. Orzo is my new favorite and I use it in tons of dishes.

Italian Wedding Soup will be your new Friday night swap for classic chicken soup.  Learn to make it with my video.

You can cook orzo as you would pasta (with lots of water and then drain it) or as you would rice (with just enough water to be absorbed.) Use four cups of water to 1½ cups of orzo and let it cook for about 10 minutes.

It’s another one of those fab presto-chango foods that gets you out of the kitchen fast!

You can also try two of my other favorite recipes for orzo.

Orzo with Chicken, Dill and Chickpeas

Yields 4 cups

This easy pasta salad makes great use of leftover chicken or a store bought rotisserie bird. The salad also keeps well refrigerated for a few days and is perfect to take to work or school for lunch.


  • Prep Time : 5 min
  • Cook Time : 10 min
  • Ready Time : 15 min


  • 1 lb. orzo
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • ½ cup chopped green onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain well and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine orzo, chicken, chickpeas, olives, green onion and dill.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, olive oil and garlic.
  4. Pour dressing over orzo salad and toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Italian Vegetable Soup with Cheese Bread

4 servings


  • Prep Time: 8 min
  • Cook Time: 27 min
  • Ready Time: 35 min


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 to 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup frozen cut green beans
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 8 slices baguette or Italian loaf
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup store bought pesto


  1. Heat olive oil in a medium pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onions and sauté 5 minutes. Add zucchini and garlic and sauté 4 more minutes.
  2. Add broth, beans, orzo, tomatoes and oregano and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 14 to 18 minutes or until orzo is cooked and vegetables are tender.
  3. Preheat oven to a low broil.  Place sliced bread on a large sheet pan. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cheese on each slice of bread and broil on low until cheese is bubbly and bread is lightly browned.
  4. To serve, ladle soup into 4 bowls and top each with 1 tablespoon pesto. Serve with cheese bread.

Jamie Geller is the author of the best-selling Quick & Kosher cookbook series, creator of the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller magazine and host of the popular Quick & Kosher cooking show online at and on-air on JLTV.  Join the world’s largest kosher food community on to discover 5,000 FREE kosher and Jewish recipes, inspiring menu ideas, how-to videos and more! Follow Jamie’s cooking adventures on Twitter @JoyofKosher and on

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.