Un cugino è appena arrivato – Risoni integrali con gamberi, cappesante, finocchio, radicchio ed erbette


Orzo in the US, is that tiny pasta shape like a bird’s tongue, orzo in Italian means barley, so when I just arrived to the US, I got confused. Now since I am in the US, I will try to use american names so that people don’t get confused either. I have known orzo to be a cereal whole my life, in Italy they use it even as a drink, caffè d’orzo, it’s basically a powder like the instant coffee, you add hot water, dilute it and you get a cup of dark drink that somehow tastes like coffee and has no caffeine. It’s an alternative to coffee.

My mom used to make me soups with this pasta when I was a child and called it “bicca” meaning “seed” in her local dialect, they’re called Risoni in Italian (riso = rice, big rice grain).

Anyway going back to the other orzo, the pasta-orzo, in this dish I cooked it like risotto, coating it with olive oil, then adding broth and white wine gradually. You can also cook pasta this way. The water is absorbed gradually and pasta gets all the flavors of the stock.

I love this dish, it’s healthy, flavorful and very delicate and an alternative to risotto, if you want once in a while get some whole wheat grain in your diet and still be fully satisfied with your meal, this would be be perfect. I love risotto, a well-made risotto is heavenly but sometime I just want some whole wheat grains.

Ingredients for 2-3

  • 1 cup whole wheat orzo
  • 12 shrimps with shell and heads on
  • 2/3 cups small sea scallops
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cloves
  • celery stick
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbs fresh tarragon
  • 12 mint leaves
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • 2 tbs parlsey
  • 1 tbs fresh oregano
  • 1/2 fennel, finely diced
  • 1 cup shredded radicchio
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper


Start making the stock. Place 3 cups of water to a boil and add all the herbs, the fennel, the radicchio, let cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the water and drain. Chop the herbs finely and set aside.

Add carrot, celeri stick, stick cloves inside the onion, and add to the stock. Peel the shrimps, head and shell and add to the stock, reduce until you have about 2 cups of stock. Let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes, adding a little water if the water evaporates.

When the stock is ready, drain and keep the liquid.

In a pot, heat olive oil, add shallot and let it brown. Add risoni, coat them with olive like you would for a risotto. Add a little stock and wine, stir until the liquid has evaporated, and add continue stiring and adding stock and wine.

10 minutes before the orzo is almost cooked, add sea scallops and 9 shrimps cut in pieces, leave 3 or 4 for decoration. Stir well and cook until the seafood is cooked all the way through. Add the herbs, radicchio, fennel mixture. Stir well and let rest for about 5-7 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve very hot.