Saffron Carrot Orzo Risotto Recipe

Saffron Carrot Orzo Risotto Recipe Recipe

I usually cook risotto when I want to make good use of excess pantry staples in my kitchen. In this risotto, instead of using rice, I selected orzo pasta. I kept the dish vegetarian and flavored it with saffron, carrots and very little Pecorino cheese. 

To ensure a good, creamy consistency, I moistened the orzo risotto with white wine, homemade vegetable stock and a dab of butter.

I find that the combination of butter and shallots makes for the most flavorful dishes, and this is no exception. The risotto was so exquisite, I served it as the main course. It's filling and delicious; you won't be disappointed. 


Yields: 8 servings

2 carrots
¼ cup white wine
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ teaspoon saffron threads
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup orzo
2 tablespoons Pecorino cheese, freshly shaved
1¾ cups homemade vegetable stock, warm
1 tablespoon sea salt


For the carrots: Peel and cut the carrots on the bias into 2-inch slices using a vegetable carving knife (you don't have to cut them this way; I just think it's pretty). Cut the slices into strips.

In a pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add th2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid. Reduce to medium-heat and cook for about 20 minutes (until fork tender).

Drain the extra liquid (if any). Transfer to a plate.

For the risotto:

In a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron threads. Add about ¼ cup of water. 

In the same pot, heat the rest of the oil and cook the shallots for 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes until golden. In the same saucepan, add the butter and orzo. Make sure the grains of orzo are well coated. Add 1 cup of warm vegetable stocks and the Pecorino cheese and stir frequently.

After bringing the liquid to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the saffron liquid. Check the liquid and periodically add ¼ cup of warm vegetable stock (up to an additional ½ cup water if needed) as soon as the liquid has been absorbed. Simmer for another 15 minutes.

Assembly time:

At this point the orzo is still al dente. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked carrots. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook for 10-15 minutes.

Check doneness. Add a bit more water if needed and extend the cooking time by another 5 minutes (if necessary). Adjust seasoning and finish with a little butter.

When ready to serve, sprinkle a bit of. Turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Garnish with the reserved lemon zest. Decorate with the lemon slices.

Bon appétit!


Coating the grains of orzo in butter prevents them from sticking to one another.

Check out more risotto recipes.


Published By: Jacqueline Pham on September 11, 2013.


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