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Ask Dr. Gourmet

What is "orzo"?

Hello, I work for a UK based nutrition and preventative health web site, so we are looking to link to other sites which will be of help to UK based folk. I really like your site and the concept, but, please, what is "orzo"? You have a receipt for a Lemon Basil Orzo Salad, but I (a pretty experienced cook) haven't heard of it. A glimmer of a thought: is it barley?

Dr. Gourmet Says....

a pasta salad made with orzo pasta

"Orzo" is indeed the Italian word for barley, but the orzo recipe you mention is for the barley shaped pasta known as orzo.

With many pastas it is the shape that became the suggestion for the name. Orzo is a smallish pasta about the size and shape of barley. Similarly, riso is the shape of rice, farfalle is the shape of bow ties, pappardelle resembles paper, etc..

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet