Thursday, November 20, 2014

NEW RECIPE: Orzo Patsitsio

© Constantine William Spyrou

If you haven't figured out by now from seeing a lot of my posts, orzo is probably one of my favorite pastas to utilize. It can take on liquid very well similar to rice, and has a cool unique toothy texture that no other pasta can achieve. I've used it in several dishes, ranging from orzo salad to spiced orzo with pork. This one is my first fusion dish involving orzo: Orzo Patsitsio.

Patsitsio is a Greek form of lasagna that involves a bechamel topping with bucatini (hollowed-out spaghetti), ground beef, and spices underneath. This form uses orzo instead that has absorbed liquid to become a thick mixture that can support the bechamel. Making the orzo in this form also gives a nice creamy element, as some of the bechamel still gets into the orzo, giving a creamy overall texture to the finished product. This orzo mix has strong Italian flavors, making it a great, comforting fusion of Italian and Greek Cuisine! 

Recipe serves up to 16 people.

For the Bechamel:

1 quart whole milk
1 whole egg
1 cup butter
1 cup flour
Salt to season
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp parmesean cheese

For the Orzo Mix:

1 package orzo
4 cups water or vegetable stock
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper to season
1/2 cup diced white onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
2 cups raw spinach or kale
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or red wine)
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried rosemary
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 cup Parmesean Cheese


1. Start by making the bechamel. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour, and stir constantly until the roux cooks out and flour can no longer be smelled, about 10-15 minutes.
2. Slowly add in your milk in small portions, whisking thoroughly to combine until smooth each time. When all of the milk is added, bring up to a boil while stirring to ensure the bechamel doesn't burn. Once the bechamel is at a boil, bring to a simmer and cook for at least 20 minutes. At this point, you can add in the salt and nutmeg.
3. Stir in the parmesean cheese. When it is all melted, beat an egg and slowly whisk it into the bechamel. Take off of the heat and let cool.
4. In a pot on high heat with some olive oil, add in your garlic, onion, celery, and carrot. Stir in the seasoning and herbs, and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
5. Add in your tomato paste to the center of the pan, and cook out for a minute. Stir into the vegetables, and cook the spinach.
6. Deglaze the pot with the red wine vinegar. Add your diced tomatoes and water/stock. Bring up to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes,
7. Bring the liquid back up to a boil, and add in the orzo. Stir on a medium heat until all of the orzo is cooked and the liquid is absorbed, ensuring that the orzo does not stick to the pot. This should take about 15-20 minutes.
8. Let the orzo cool, then preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
9. Pour your orzo into a large baking dish until it fills up half of the dish evenly. Top with your bechamel, and cover that with the remaining Parmesean cheese.
10. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown, and serve!

This dish is all about the comfort factor. The spinach and vegetables give some unique fun textures to the orzo base, and the rich creaminess of the top combined with the sweet, hearty tomatoes in the orzo make for a delicious combination!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

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