Inspired by the flavors of southern Italy, this delicious summer dish is the perfect weeknight meal! It’s quick, easy, and requires very little prep work! Not to mention it has everything: crispy orzo, charred lemon, whipped herbed ricotta, and bright garlic kale. Time to open a bottle of wine and start cooking!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is orzo?
A: Orzo is a small pasta that largely resembles rice. It is available in most grocery stores but if you can’t find it, this recipe is also delicious with white rice. I’m sure it would also be delicious with cauliflower rice (although i’ve never tried it).
Q: What is Calabrian chili pate?
Put simply, it’s a sweet and spicy paste made of ground chilies from the Calabria region in Southern Italy. Calabrian chili paste often has olive oil and lemon to enhance the flavors of the chilies. While it’s difficult to find, most specialty food stores and Trader Joe’s have it! But if you don’t have any, red pepper flakes work as a substitute.
Q: Can I make this without kale?
A: Of course! This recipe would also be delicious with spinach, zucchini, or peas!
Q: What can I pair with this dish?
A: If you’d like to serve this as a side dish, Ina Garten’s Lemon Chicken would be a delicious main course! I’d recommend serving this crispy orzo with a bright white wine like Sauvignon Blanc. If you’d like something a little heartier, go with an oaky Chardonnay.
Crispy Orzo with Garlic Kale and Whipped Ricotta
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 3 tbsp fresh herbs minced, divided 2 & 1 (see notes)
- 1 lb orzo pasta
- 3 tbsp butter divided 2 & 1
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided 2 & 1
- 1 shallot or small onion diced
- 3 large cloves of garlic minced, divided 2 & 1
- ½ tsp Calabrian chili paste or red pepper flakes
- 2 cups kale chopped
- 2 lemons halved
- Make the Whipped Ricotta: combine the ricotta, 1 tbsp of herbs, and 1 tbsp of olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on high for 30 seconds, or until the ricotta is light and smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse for another 30 seconds. Alternately, beat the ricotta with a hand mixer on high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat again for 30 seconds.
- Cook the Orzo: Cook the orzo to al dente according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet on medium-high heat. Add the shallot, 2 tbsp of butter, and the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil. Cook the shallot until it is tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked orzo, Calabrian chili paste, and 1 tbsp of minced garlic. Turn the heat to high cook the orzo until it has charred to your desired crispness– for me, this took about 7 minutes. Try to resist the urge to stir the orzo constantly– you want it to develop some color on the bottom! Remove the crispy orzo to a large bowl.
- Turn the heat down to medium-high. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of minced garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant (about 30 seconds), add the kale and toss to combine. Be careful, if the kale is wet, it may pop when it hits the hot oil.
- Once the kale is coated in butter, add the lemons cut side down. Cook the kale for five minutes, or until tender-crisp.
- To plate, smear the side of a plate with whipped ricotta, top with crispy orzo and kale, squeeze the charred lemon on top and serve!