Orzo pasta is 1/3 inch in length and it is shaped like a grain of rice. It is used in soups, salads and a variety of pasta dishes. Although it doesn’t actually contain any, the word orzo in Italian means barley. Knowing what ingredients are actually in orzo can be helpful if you or someone you love has a food allergy.
Semolina, or durum flour, is the primary ingredient used to make orzo. It is derived from the purified leftover particles from wheat processing. This type of flour is protein-rich, but lower in nutrients and fiber than whole grain flours.
Water is added to pasta during the mixing process. Water is added to the semolina until it forms a dough. Once the dough is formed, it can be rolled flat and cut into the orzo shape. After the pasta is dried during processing, most of the water is lost.
Semolina pasta is enriched with B vitamins to make it more nutritional. It has niacin, thiamin and riboflavin. B vitamins have a variety of health benefits. They help the body metabolize fats and protein. Plus, B vitamins help the nervous system and are essential for healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver. Folic acid, also called folate, is added to enriched orzo pasta as well. This B vitamin is extremely important for expectant mothers because it may help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine.
Iron helps distribute oxygen from your lungs to your muscles and organs. Low iron levels can cause fatigue, headaches and irritability. If iron gets too low, it can cause a potentially life threatening condition called anemia. One serving of enriched orzo pasta contains roughly 10 percent of your recommended daily intake of iron.
References and ResourcesSan Georgio: Orzo
Gourmet Sleuth: Orzo Substitute Ingredients
"New Good Food: Essential Ingredients for Cooking and Eating Well"; Margaret Wittenberg; 2007
"Pasta"; Joyce Bentley; 2005