The Biggest Mistake To Avoid When Meal Prepping With Orzo

Orzo, a should-be pantry staple, is an absolute star when it comes to meal prep. Orzo may look like rice, but it's actually tiny pieces of pasta. It's ideal for soaking up savory sauces, making salads heartier and more satisfying, or starring as the main attraction in a dish. When efficiency and flavor reign supreme, orzo emerges as a true champion. White rice is bland, quinoa is an acquired taste, and long strands of pasta don't do well when cooked in batches. 

If prepared properly, orzo doesn't lose its flavor or texture when refrigerated, reheated, and eaten over a few days. However, if you've ever meal-prepped orzo in bulk, only to find it's become mushy and gelatinous, you've made a mistake. Clumpy, sticky orzo means you didn't toss it with a little bit of olive oil after cooking. Olive oil creates a tiny barrier between the grains of orzo, preventing the wet pasta from getting stuck together. As a heads-up, don't add it if you plan to mix the orzo with a pasta sauce because the oil will repel it. 

How to use olive oil to prevent clumpy orzo

Realistically, you can substitute other high-quality finishing oils, such as avocado or sesame oil, for olive oil to add flavor and prevent clumping, but don't make another mistake and use cheap cooking oil because it won't add flavor. Then, clumping is the least of your worries.

Once you're done cooking your orzo, strain it as usual, but instead of transferring it to a bowl, return it to the pot. Then hit it with a few dashes of olive oil and toss the orzo to ensure every piece has an oil barrier. After this, you can continue prepping your orzo as usual, and you won't get sticky, mushy results. 

You may find some pasta recipes that recommend adding olive oil to your boiling pasta water, but this is a useless tip and a waste of olive oil because water and oil famously do not mix. The oil will just float to the top of the water and get dumped out when strained. Because the orzo won't be dry, it's best not to store it with ingredients like spinach and fresh herbs that can become soggy.