Read The Laughing Chef's bio and previous
April 1, 2009
for the Pasta Social Scene
Like all things,
pasta has its own social hierarchy. Get different kinds of pastas
together, and they will segregate themselves into different sizes and
shapes. In this world, the smaller the piece of pasta, the more regal an
approach it takes to life. The lasagna noodle is the biggest and least
sophisticated of noodles, considered by its peers to be the village
idiot of pastas, and things work their way down from there.
At the low end of
things is the orzo. It is as short as its name, shaped and formed to
look like a fat grain of rice. It is believed that this was on purpose,
that the original orzo was crafted by pasta makers of old to take on the
form and shape of simple rice, knowing that a pasta that small might
carry with it an inflated sense of self-importance so huge that it could
crush the world if not otherwise kept in check.
Orzo defies typical
pasta sauces. It holds marinara in disdain, and believes alfredo sauce
to be beneath its station. What it prefers is a sauce that does not
attempt to overpower it, that allows it to still shine, despite its
It is also a very
quick pasta to cook, which means that you may boil water and soften it
in about the same time that it takes to put together a very simple
You start by boiling
a pot of water. In another skillet, fry some garlic in butter. You may
substitute olive oil, but keep in mind that the texture of butter is
smoother and more flavorful than that of plain oil, and it better
lubricates orzo’s haughty nature.
Add a very small
amount of very finely diced onion and finely chopped kale.
The onion will
release its flavors and slowly soften. The kale serves two purposes. The
first is that it will offer flecks of green that will enhance the nearly
uniform off-white appearance of the pasta. The second is that when you
serve this to unsuspecting children, you can lie to them and tell them
it’s merely tasteless parsley. What you’re really doing is feeding them
one of the most healthful foods there is, which under more honest
conditions would constitute a death sentence to the entire dish.
Fried gently in
butter and garlic, the kale will soften to where it can be eaten and
digested. Meanwhile, the orzo itself should have plumped and soaked up
Drain the orzo and
stir in the butter and kale. Add some Parmesan cheese.
The dish will appear
to be dry with melting cheese on top. This is where we introduce the
standard answer to every question in the kitchen . . . add chicken
stock. Ask yourself a question with no apparent answer, and instead of a
question mark follow with, “Add chicken stock.” This is how everything
Stir while adding
stock. This should convert the cheese to a light sauce that orzo will
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