It’s easy to get into a side-dish rut. Rice or pasta are always favorite choices for me. Over the last few years, I’ve made a gradual move to brown rice and whole wheat pasta. And, believe it or not, I rarely prepare potatoes, unless they are the first ones dug from the garden that I can buy at the farmers market.
Last weekend when we grilled a whole chicken, I was not in the mood for making choices. That’s how wild rice and orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, wound up on our dinner plates. Rice and pasta. It was a pleasant change from the norm. Sweetened with honey drizzled from a tablespoon, colored with sweet red and yellow bell peppers, a bit of saltiness from soy sauce and a squirt or two of fresh lemon juice for bright flavor, worked together to create a dish that brought a “Wow!” from my husband.
All I can say is that this side dish is amazing. It’s different than any wild rice dish you’ve had in the past. If there is one negative, it’s the fact I dirtied two pots cooking wild rice and orzo separately.
This side-dish was wonderful with grilled chicken. It would also be perfect with a steak right off the grill.
Wild Rice and Orzo is uncomplicated to prepare and has a high “Wow” factor. Use it as a bed for meat or seafood, or up the “wow” factor by packing it into a glass bowl sprayed lightly with cooking spray, then unmold onto the plate. I used some antique sherbet/compote bowls to make the perfectly-shaped mound you see in the photo.
Orzo and Wild Rice
- 1 cup wild rice, uncooked
- 1/2 cup orzo, uncooked
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 of a yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Cook orzo according to package directions. Rinse wild rice and put in saucepan with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered until rice is done. Kernels of will be split open, revealing the white inside. It should be tender, but still a bit chewy. Drain and set aside.
Saute onion and bell peppers in 2 tablespoons butter in large pan. When tender, add garlic and saute another minute. Stir in honey. Add wild rice, parsley, orzo, soy sauce and lemon juice. Stir in cooked wild rice and orzo, continuing to stir until heated through. Serve immediately. Makes 6 very generous servings.
Try serving this Orzo and Wild Rice dish with Grilled Three-Citrus Spring Chicken I have in my column this week.