Luxury is quite a complex word. When it comes to cooking, it’s usually associated with expensive or rare ingredients. Something most of us don’t usually incorporate in our daily cooking routines.

But you know, expensive can be relative when it comes to food. And luxury doesn’t have to be something we save for special occasions. We can add small notes of it in our daily cooking. I’ll explain.

How? Well, all one has to do really is source some good ingredients and combine them in clever ways. And most of these luxury foods go a long way. Saffron is the ingredient we love today. Why? Because of its red, gold colour. Because of its warm, slightly metallic flavour. Because a few threads are enough to add its unique aroma to your food. Plus, it makes us feel luxurious, doesn’t it? The one we are using is from Greece and oh, it’s organic too!

This recipe is inspired by Jamie Oliver’s flavour combinations.

Feeds 2-3 people:

4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 red onions
200g orzo
700 ml water
100g sun dried tomato paste
4 generous pinches of saffron
4 cardamom pods
100g galomyzithra or other soft white cheese
salt, pepper

Preheat your oven at 200C.

Boil your water and add the saffron threads. Once they release their colour, add the sun dried tomato paste and stir. Pop in the cardamom pods.

Finely chop the onions and gently fry them with the olive oil until translucent. Use a heat-proof casserole over medium low-heat. Add the orzo and stir, until the grains are coated in oil. Pour the saffron/sun dried tomato liquid over the orzo. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer your casserole to the oven and bake, stirring occasionally, until orzo is cooked and liquid is absorbed, around 20-30 min. Check halfway through and add a bit more water if needed. A few minutes before your orzo is ready, add the galomizithra cheese and fold through so that some lumps remain. Bake for another 10 minutes, until the cheese melts. Can you smell the red-gold luxury?

This dish is great served with a simple green salad.

 


Orzo, or kritharaki in Greek is traditionally eaten as part of a beef stew. Oven baked pieces of meat, with tomato sauce and orzo. Orzo is usually added towards the end of the cooking, when meat has started falling off the bone. It gets a delicious meaty flavour and mellow texture.

A vegetarian friend recently told us how for him, this is such a wonderful dish that it can stand on its own. Just remove the meat he said. Indeed, now that we are full into spring, maybe something lighter will be better.

This dish can be prepared in the hob, or you can finish it off in the over. We prefer the oven. You can serve orzo al dente. But we feel that there is something comforting in the soft grains, enveloped in tomato sauce. Also, although this shifts our recipe away from vegan, we would add some feta cheese. Take the orzo out of the oven a few minutes before it’s cooked. Crumble some feta cheese on top. Return to oven and bake for a few more minutes, until feta is melted. Trust us, this takes this recipe to a whole different level.
Feeds 4
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
8 tbsp of olive oil 
200gr orzo
1 bottle of tomato sauce (passata)
1 bay leaf
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp dried rosemary
salt
pepper

Peel and finely chop the onion. Mince the garlic. You can use a cheese grater for both if you prefer.
In a medium sized pot, add the olive oil. Yes it’s plenty, to add flavour to the dish. In medium heat, gently fry the onion and garlic until translucent and slightly caramelised. Add the orzo and give it a stir, to cover it in the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato, oregano, rosemary and bay leaf. Add 1/2 cup of water. Lower the heat and let the orzo cook in the flavoured tomato juice. Alternatively, cover and place in the oven at 180C. Check occasionally and stir, adding water if needed. When the orzo is cooked through, approximately 15 minutes later remove from heat/oven. Add the feta cheese if using. Serve with warm crusty bread for a wonderful, light spring dinner.