Prawn and orzo stew

We have a hung jury.

I recently discovered orzo.  Well, I'd heard the word but never bothered to find out exactly what it was, imagining it, in my ignorance, to be either a soft and niffy cheese or perhaps the entrails of an animal.  As neither concept appealed, I simply skipped the page without learning more.  I see you knowledgeable orzo fans all smiling condescendingly, as well you might.

That all changed when I started seeing orzo combined with many ingredients that I do like to cook with and we are now firm friends. I wish I could say the same for my entire family - with orzo, not with me!  I've used it in two completely different recipes in the past month, both of which I've judged successes and my youngest (not so young, anymore) was most complimentary.  David, however, finds this  ingredient troublesome, as he says it's pasta trying to be rice and it fails on both counts.  Sigh.

Orzo's hybrid nature is precisely what appeals to me.  It doesn't have long stringy bits to get tangled around the other ingredients, it's neither grainy nor gluey nor desiccated as rice, improperly cooked, can be.  I like orzo  because it's effective in a soup, stew or casseroles and marries up successfully with fish, chicken, seafood, vegetables, in fact any savoury ingredient.  Ergo, I'm not about to give up in my quest to get that last all-important orzo vote and so proclaim it not guilty as charged.

We've debated the merits, in this blog, of altering and amending original recipes and this one as it came, had a couple of flaws from the get-go so I changed it slightly and, I think, improved the whole.

650 ml chicken broth
500g broccoli florets
400g tin tomatoes
275ml uncooked orzo
400g uncooked prawns, peeled and deveined
400g ratatouille (either tinned or home made if you're fortunate to have some you made earlier)
½ tsp salt
good grinding of black pepper
pinch ground red chilies (my own addition)
handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
15g butter

Bring the broth to a boil in large pan.  Stir in the tomatoes and orzo and simmer for about 6 or 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add  broccoli, prawns, ratatouille and seasonings and cover, continuing to cook for a further 5 to 7 minutes until prawns turn pink and broccoli is cooked but not mushy (be careful here as the broccoli is the litmus test of doneness).  Stir in basil and butter and serve over crusty bread.

The ratatouille (my own addition) thickens the stew to a good consistency .  Kit and I truly enjoyed our Friday night supper but David still needs convincing that orzo isn't pasta in rice's clothing.

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