Pancetta and pea orzo (#67)

Truth be told I’ve been making this one for ages. The post has sat in my drafts for ages and Lord knows why I’ve neglected to publish it. Potentially because at one point I made it with such regularity.

This was my first foray into cooking with orzo and I will never look back. My initia approach to cooking with rice-shaped pasta could probably be best described as somewhere between indifference and reluctance. What if it’s boring/rubbish/underwhelming and I’m saddled with a ton of it? Is it not basically risotto?

This recipe is sublimely easy to whip together in basically 15 minutes. The biggest thank you goes to Nigelissima. Buy some orzo and give it a go!

Good things: stupidly easy, one of the closest things I get to a store cupboard meal

Bad things: trying to find ways to make it more exciting after the first 6 times. I don’t think using chorizo instead of pancetta was a success, so I will update.

Ingredients & requirements: meal for two

  • 2 tablespoons of garlic oil
  • 150g pancetta cubes
  • 150g frozen peas
  • 250g orzo
  • 625ml boiling water
  • salt & pepper
  • 15g soft unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan

Preparation & cooking

  1. Preparation
    1. Measure out 150g of peas in a bowl
    2. Measure out 250g of orzo in a bowl
    3. Grate 30ml of parmesan (or just have some pre-grated stuff to hand…)
    4. Get the butter out of the fridge
    5. Fill the kettle (at least 625ml), and put it on
  2. Cooking
    1. Warm the 2 tablespoons of garlic oil in a large saucepan
    2. Cook the 150g of pancetta for several mins until it becomes browned,
    3. Add the 150g of peas and stir in for another 1 minute
    4. Add the 250g of orzo and pour in the 625ml of boiling water. Add a touch of salt. Raise to boiling and then reduce heat to simmer for 10 mins. Give it one or two stirs throughout.
    5. Once it’s starting to look ready, add 15g of butter and 30ml of parmesan. Season with pepper.


This is the epitome of a great post-work dinner for me. A few quick ingredients added to a pan in sequential order is all that’s required. What’s not to love? Also, with the exception of the pancetta, you should have everything in the ingredients list in your cupboard, fridge or freezer all the time without fail. Basically buy some pancetta on your way home and be eating within minutes.

It’s salty – pancetta and parmesan, who knew? – so don’t go mad with the salt in the boiling water whatever you do. But my gosh does it hook you when you eat it.


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