Lebanese Rice with Orzo Rice
Looking for a delicious and easy side dish? Try this Lebanese rice and orzo pasta recipe. My good friend, Sarah shared this rice orzo recipe with me. It has been in her Lebanese family for years. Her family calls it Lebanese rice or (riz ib shaareeya) but it is also popular as a Turkish dish. It’s quick, easy to make, and the flavor is so delicious.
All you need is roughly 20 minutes, one pot with a lid, and you’ll have the most delicious side dish recipe. Perfect with chicken, fish or your favorite protein, let me know if you give this recipe a try.
Is Orzo Rice Good for You as a Side Dish?
Yes, orzo rice is easy to make and one of the healthiest grain substitutes you can eat. With plenty of health benefits to boast on its own, it’s also delicious and adds a wealth of nutrients to your meal. If this is your first experience with Orzo, this is a great choice with a delicious mixture of unforgettable grains and flavors.
Orzo can be eaten cold or heated in a range of dishes, but this Lebanese rice truly takes the cake for a comfort food, if you ask me.
What Does Rice Orzo Taste Like?
Overall, you’ll be surprised to learn that orzo has a very mild flavor that borders on nutty. This makes it a perfect filler for a wide range of dishes, and it can be used in place of other types of rice. The main thing that makes orzo stand out aside from its slightly nutty flavor is its chewy texture. When cooked correctly, orzo should be chewy but not hard.
Cooking it longer to get the chewiness out will turn the orzo to mush and ruin the flavor, so it’s important to expect this when you first try orzo rice. The white rice in this dish helps break up some of that chewy texture and provide variety.
Is Orzo the Same as Pasta Rice?
Yes, you might be surprised to learn that Orzo is sometimes called pasta rice, but the name isn’t so easy to figure out:
Orzo may look similar to rice – and we certainly call it a rice or grain sometimes – but orzo is actually made from Semolina flour, making it a pasta.
In Italy, it is classified as a pastina, or “little pasta” for its shape and size. Pastinas are a category of fine-grain pasta that mimic the shape and size of rice, typically reserved for soups. Helpful as though it may seem, orzo shares the same Italian word for barley for its similarity in appearance to the barley grain. This has misled a lot of people in the kitchen to believe that orzo is similar to barley. Barley doesn’t cook the same as either orzo or long grain rice, so keep this in mind when you’re shopping for the right flavor.
Is Orzo a Healthy Carb?
Yes, orzo is considered a highly nutritious carb. Because it is pasta, it has high carbohydrate content, but it contains a lot of protein per serving as well. Orzo is also a great source of niacin, iron, and many other vitamins that you can only find in good quality Semolina flour.
Of course, the nutritional value of the orzo also has a lot to do with how it is packaged and processed, as well as how long it sits on the grocery store shelf before you pick it up. In any case, you’ll find that the fresher the ingredients, the higher the nutritional content.
Depending on what your health goals are, orzo may be considered a healthier alternative to white or brown rice, but because orzo isn’t a grain, this is an unfair comparison. For every 2 ounces of orzo, there are – on average – 44 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of healthy fat depending on the manufacturer.
Ingredients Needed for This Recipe
Butter – You’ll need 1 stick or a 1/2 cup of salted butter for this recipe. Add it to the pot and allow it to melt, stirring occasionally to prevent it from burning. You want the butter to lightly brown before adding the orzo rice.
Orzo Pasta – For this recipe, you’ll need once cup of orzo rice, also known as orzo pasta. Add the orzo rice with the lightly browned butter. Stir well. After a few minutes once the orzo begins to lightly brown and the butter has a foam-like texture, add the rice and water.
Rice – For this recipe, you’ll need Uncle Ben’s white rice; it’s preferable if it’s long grain rice but short grain will work as well.You’ll add it to the orzo and butter along with the water. Stir well and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15-18 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.
Chicken Bouillon – Option to add a small amount of chicken bouillon for extra chicken flavor.
How to Make Lebanese Rice with Orzo Pasta
Place a 3-quart pan over medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Once the butter is lightly browed ad the orzo pasta. Stir occasionally until the orzo is lightly browned and the butter has a foam-like texture.
Next, add the rice and water. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15-18 minutes or until the orzo rice is tender and the rice is cooked through. Use a fork to fluff the mixture and serve hot alongside your favorite protein.
Optional Inclusions That Pair with Orzo and Long Grain Rice
For this recipe, you can add a variety of ingredients to spice things up. Chopped baby spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and crumbled feta cheese are great for a Mediterranean flare. Or try whatever you enjoy most. Kalamata olives, tomatoes, garlic, broccoli or fresh herbs would taste great too.
**This orzo pasta and rice makes 6 servings. Please see below for nutritional info. The nutritional information below reflects the standard recipe with no add-ins.**
Cacio e Pepe Version
There are many variations on this recipe. For the cacio e pepe version, simply add a 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper. Stir the cheese and black pepper into the hot orzo and rice right before you are ready to serve. Once well combined, add it to a serving bowl, top it with shaved parmesan cheese and serve hot. Make multiple meals out of it by pairing it with chicken, or serve by itself.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three to four days. Reheat in the microwave until heat through.
Looking for more dish dishes? Try my roasted Brussel sprouts with green apple and balsamic glaze. Or my one pan crispy smashed potatoes. Both are guaranteed to be a hit.
Lebanese Rice with Orzo Pasta
Orzo Pasta and Rice
- 1 stick salted butter, ½ cup
- 1 cup orzo pasta, dry
- 1 cup white rice, dry, Uncle Ben's brand
- 2 + ¼ cups water
Add the Following for the Cacio e Pepe Version
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- cracked black pepper , to taste
- 3 quart pot with lid
- Place a 3-quart pot over medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Once the butter is lightly browed add the orzo pasta. Stir occasionally until the orzo is lightly browned and the butter has a foam-like texture.
- Next, add the rice and water. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15-18 minutes or until the pasta is tender and the rice is cooked through. Use a fork to fluff the mixture and serve hot alongside your favorite protein.