Why You Should Start Keeping Orzo In Your Pantry

Here's a set-up you may be all too familiar with: After grinding through another workday, you're balancing running errands, walking the dog, and feeding the kids when, all of a sudden, you're interrupted by a rumbling noise that seems loud enough to be coming from surround-sound speakers. Alas, it's coming from your stomach, which makes you realize that it's getting late, and you haven't eaten dinner yet. What to do? Spaghetti was last night's fare, a pot of beans will take hours, and popcorn is not dinner...

Thankfully, having a well-stocked pantry with dependable ingredients makes all the difference in throwing together a quick, satisfying meal on those days when time isn't on your side. Trusty carbs like dried pasta, rice, oats, and beans have rightfully earned their spots on the top shelf. Adding orzo to the lineup, as well, will round out your arsenal for a lifetime's worth of speedy dinner success. 

Orzo is easy to find, affordable, and versatile

For starters, the small, rice-like type of pasta called orzo is a fantastic pantry staple because it's readily available in the dry pasta aisle of many grocery stores, from Trader Joe's to Walmart, and is generally affordable, per Thrive Market. For another, it cooks easily and in minutes. Allrecipes suggests that the oblong pasta can reach al dente perfection within 8 to 10 minutes, with slight fluctuations depending on the size and brand. As is the case with all pasta, orzo is best cooked in a pot of generously salted water.

As if you needed another reason to love orzo, it's an extremely versatile ingredient. Though it's a type of pasta, you can also treat it like rice in your cooking: Use it in place of rice for a quicker risotto or paella, or throw it into any pasta salad, soup, or one-pan orzo bake with whatever proteins, vegetables, and seasonings you have on hand. Orzo even tastes stellar seasoned simply with salt, pepper, herbs, olive oil, and cheese, according to Better Homes & Gardens. It's the kind of ingredient that's just as good for a weekday lunch as it is for a special dinner. Keep it in your pantry, and it will never let you down.