Orzo Risotto with courgettes, lemon & chicken was inspired by something I saw the lovely Nigella Lawson make and by my fascination with the little pieces of pasta what look so much like grains of rice.

I love risotto but it can be a bit of  a faff to make.  I never manage to get the texture of the arborio rice just right. But, orzo is pasta so I find it easier to cook and judge when it is properly cooked.

Rather than stir the rice endlessly, you can just cook the orzo in some stock mixed with water and, once it is cooked to the texture you like, you just stir through the ingredients.

Feel free to add anything you like or have to hand.  Ham & leek; garlic & parmesan; summer herbs; butternut squash & sage.  Anything that takes your fancy.

I have made this because I regularly roast a chicken and end up with mountains of leftover meat.  I can only eat so much roast chicken on my own in one sitting.  So, I strip the chicken of all the cooked meat and then freeze it.  This recipe is a good way to use up some of that leftover chicken.

Is it traditional ?  Of course not.  But orzo is now pretty easy to get (Asda do their own brand version) and it makes a great substitute for arborio rice if you do not have it.  And it can be ready in about half the time of a traditional risotto so is great for a quick midweek meal.

Orzo risotto with courgettes, lemon & chicken


250g orzo pasta

500ml chicken stock added to a pot of boiling water

2  courgettes,  grated

Zest of 1/2 lemon

150g of shredded cooked chicken


Black pepper

1 tbls butter

A glug of double cream


Add the chicken stock to a pot of 2 litres of boiling water and cook the orzo for about a minute less than the time recommended on the packet.  I usually aim for about 9 mins.  Drain.

When you grate the courgettes, place them into a clean tea towel or some kitchen paper and squeeze out most of the moisture.  Courgettes are full of liquid so it is better to get rid of it.

Heat the courgettes and chicken in the butter in large frying pan. Don’t fry them.  You just want them hot.  Add the orzo, a glug of double cream, the lemon zest and some freshly cracked black pepper. Stir together and serve immediately sprinkled with chopped parsley and some parmesan if you want it.

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