Orzo with Prawns and Bacon

“That’s strange looking rice.”   Words to this effect always seem to be uttered when orzo appears, and it’s easy to see why.  The oval-shaped pasta shapes do share a clear visual quality, however that really is as far as the similarities go, as is understood the moment it is put into one’s mouth.  The grains have a distinctive chewy quality, even when cooked al dente, while somehow sustaining a simultaneously firm nature.  It really is rather unique, and makes them perfect for dishes such as this – not your typical saucy pastas, so much as warm (or cold) salads.  A collection of delicious ingredients, held together by the glue that is the orzo.  Perfect for a warm day with a cool glass of wine.

This particular recipe employs the “surf ‘n’ turf” pairing of prawns and bacon.  The saltiness of the bacon lardons provides a brilliant seasoning for the more delicate flavour of prawns, both of which are complemented by fresh lemon zest and a good punch of garlic.   While I’ve used peas, tenderstem broccoli and peppers as my main vegetables, there’s no reason you couldn’t sub them for others you like.  This really is just a big bowl of comfort, and it really should be to your liking.  This would no doubt work well with asparagus or sweetcorn somewhere in there.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  •  Around 150g dried orzo
  • A big handful of bacon lardons, or a few rashers of smoked bacon sliced into small pieces
  • 150g fresh prawns, ideally raw
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • Splash olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon
  • Large bunch fresh parsley
  • 1-2 small green chilis, finely chopped
  • 100ml-150ml white wine
  • Handful peas
  • 1/2 sweet pepper, diced
  • A few stalks tenderstem broccoli, tips only
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Boil the orzo in salted water for at least ten minutes.  If using frozen peas, add them to the pot after ten minutes is up and you have turned the heat off – they will help cool the pasta so it doesn’t overcook, and the pasta will help defrost them.
  2. Add a splash of olive oil to a saucepan and heat over medium.  Add the onion and a sprinkling of salt, then fry for 4-5 minutes while keeping the onion moving, until soft and going translucent.  Add the bacon and peppers and stir frequently for another couple of minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, prawns, broccoli, peas (if using fresh) and chilis and fry for a further minute, before pouring in the wine.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to get up any of the browned bits, and cook for a couple of minutes until the wine has mostly evaporated.
  4. Add the zest of a lemon, as well as the juice of half a lemon, along with a large bunch of chopped fresh parsley.
  5. Drain the orzo and return to the pot, then add the bacon and prawn mixture.  Stir through thoroughly, heating gently if it has cooled down too much.  Transfer to serving dishes and squeeze over the juice of the other half a lemon and sprinkle any remaining parsley.  

 

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