• Risoni cooks in just half the time of risotto rice. (Cook like an Italian)Source: Cook like an Italian
It might look like rice and sound like rice, but risoni is, in fact, a very versatile pasta.
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13 Apr 2020 - 3:28 PM  UPDATED 14 Apr 2020 - 12:07 PM

Risoni is also known as risi or orzo, but whatever you want to call it, just don't call it rice. Like most pasta, risoni is made from a mix of durum flour, semolina and water. Its small shape is ideal for adding bulk to soups and stews - you simply add it to the dish raw during the last 10 minutes of cooking. It's also a treat when added to a salad or used to stuff eggplants, capsicums or zucchinis.

Try one of these ways to dance the risoni.

15-minute warm-up

Quick risoni “risotto” with pippies and cherry tomatoes

Risoni makes an excellent "cheat's risotto", cooking in less time, with far less stirring required. Bring risoni together with fresh pippies, white wine and cherry tomatoes for a small-effort dinner with plenty of flavour.

Persian dance

This lamb and egg dish is a soft and delicate Persian version of Scotch eggs, braised in a saffron-scented tomato and risoni risotto. You begin this recipe up to a week ahead so the saffron water develops flavour and colour.

Greek syrtaki

Risoni is a master at soaking up flavour and this traditional Greek beef casserole makes good use of its powers. Tomato, garlic, brandy, cinnamon and cloves infuse every hearty bite.

Keep stepping with a hasapiko

Chicken is marinated in lemon, fennel, garlic and olive oil before being barbecued over high heat alongside red capsicum. Risoni is then mixed with the remaining marinade, olives, walnuts, feta and the charred capsicum. The two components duet together in perfect harmony.

Souper moves

This broken pasta and lentil soup is a great throw-together dish for when your cupboards and fridge are erring on the empty side. Instead of snapping spaghetti, simply use the perfectly-shaped risoni instead.

Rat-a-tat tap

Chicken and orzo rat-a-tat bake

Another flavour-packed chicken and risoni dish, this time by cook Joe Wicks. Quick-cooking risoni adds a carb refuel to a healthy and fast chicken and veggie dinner.

Ice down

It's quite rare to find iceberg added to a hot dish, but here its light, fresh flavour perfectly complements the risoni. This is a zesty, green take on a risoni 'risotto' that still has a nice creaminess to it thanks to a generous helping of broad beans.

Mediterranean moves
Vermicelli frittata (frittata di vermicelli)

If you have leftover pasta sitting in your fridge, like I do from time to time, then you are going to want to know about vermicelli frittata, a classic dish from Basilicata. This frittata is somewhere between quiche and a flat omelette, packed full of flavor with a creamy delicious center.

Baked rigatoni (Rigatoni al forno)

This baked rigatoni is the perfect fill-in for when you can't decide between a bowl of pasta or lasagne. It meets in the middle with rigatoni tubes wrapped in a rich tomato sauce and a cheesy baked top.

Eggs cooked in greens

Not sure what to do with all those luscious, leafy beetroot greens? This colourful Greek dish is the perfect answer. You could also substitute the beetroot greens with silverbeet. 

Giant baked beans

As well as a hearty vegetarian dinner side, these Greek baked beans are a great idea for weekend brunch; a poached or fried egg wouldn't go astray!  

Chicken with freekeh

Freekeh is an ancient grain from North African and Middle Eastern regions; it's packed with protein and fibre and an earthy-tasting alternative to rice. 

Easy tabbouleh

Highly compatible, tabbouleh is a dinner favourite and lunchbox royalty. 

Tomato and pomegranate salad

It was a proper light-bulb moment when I realised how the two types of sweetness – the sharp, almost bitter sweetness of pomegranate and the savoury, sunny sweetness of tomato – can complement each other so gloriously.