Spicy, sweet, and a little tangy. If you love spice then this *almost* one pot creamy orzo is for you.
If you are reading this at the time it gets posted (late summer / early fall) it is tomato season! What a better way to celebrate vine ripened tomatoes than with this spicy Calabrian creamy orzo. This *almost* one pot orzo recipe comes together with some of my favorite ingredients, spicy Calabrian peppers, and sweet roasted Italian tomatoes. The result? An absolutely delicious, velvety, lick the plate clean creamy orzo.
*This post is sponsored by Delallo, who is my go-to for Italian pantry staples like the ones in this recipe. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for your support!
WHAT ARE CALABRIAN CHILES?
Hi, you must be new here. Jarred Calabrian chilies are hands down in my top 5 favorite ingredients to use, and always stocked in my pantry. So what exactly are Calabrian chilies? These little peppers are grown in Calabria, a southern region in Italy. These chilies are bright in flavor and often times are sold crushed or left whole in oil, salt, and vinegar giving them a bright and acidic flavor profile. In terms of heat level, they are moderately spicy, giving more warmth than an intense burn.
Over the last few years Calabrian chilies have become increasingly popular and can be found in a ton of major supermarkets, however hands down DeLallo’s jarred Calabrian peppers are my favorite. Their Crushed Calabrian Chili Paste can be best described as spicy, smoky, fruity, and salty. While their Whole Calabrian Chili Peppers are bold and fiery. This recipe calls for both.
There is something about the heat and flavor of Calabrian chilies combined with fresh summertime tomatoes. When roasted the tomatoes are wildly sweet with a ton of umami which pairs so well against the smoky and salty peppers. Add a little fat from the heavy cream and this easy orzo dish hits all the right notes.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR SPICY CALABRIAN CREAMY ORZO
These tomatoes alone are worth saving this recipe for. While they are the key to this creamy orzo dish they would also taste amazing over fresh ricotta, a piece of crusty bread, or straight off the spoon.
Vine Cherry Tomatoes – Fresh cherry tomatoes is recommended, even better if you buy them local at a farmer’s market. However, if you are making this off season and grape tomatoes are the only option they also work too. Make sure you are buying tomatoes that are firm, but not too hard. Smooth, not wrinkly or bruised.
WholeCalabrian Chiles – The roasted tomatoes call for the whole Calabrian chilies. This allows you to control some of the heat level, in addition the whole chilies bring such a great flavor. As mentioned above I used DeLallo Whole Calabrian Chili Peppers. If you love spice and can’t get enough of it, add 5-6 chilies. Sensitive to heat? Pull back and only add 2-3.
Dried Herbs – Dried basil, thyme, and oregano. If you have a good Italian seasoning that contains those 3 and only those 3, use that, if not make your own mix with equal parts.
Olive Oil – Regular olive oil works here, the intense flavor of EVOO will overpower the tomatoes.
Orzo – You know I make a lot of pasta, and DeLallo is always my first choice. I was trying to explain to my father-in-law the other day that there is drastic difference between pasta brands, and not all pasta is created equal. When shopping for quality and taste DeLallo is some of the best. Dellalo dries their pasta slowly at low temperatures to reproduce the traditional way of making pasta. This method respects the ingredients, preserving the pasta’s color, texture and aroma. It is extruded with bronze dies for rough surface area which helps sauces adhere to it, like this creamy spicy tomato sauce.
Garlic – Fresh only!
Tomato Paste – If you cringe to tomato paste chances are you aren’t buying the right one or cooking it the right way. I have mentioned it time and time again to get the most out of your tomato paste you need to toast it. Toasting purely means cooking it down for a few minutes to intensify the tomato flavor. Starting with a good tomato paste is key here since that is the base of this sauce. DeLallo’s Tomato Paste Tube has a fantastic texture and flavor right out of the tube so you can only imagine how good it tastes after cooking it down. Best part, pop the cap back on for easy storage.
Crushed Calabrian Chilies
Chicken Broth – Chicken broth is preferred, but can be substituted for a good vegetable broth as well. I would shy away from low sodium, you will end up salting more later.
Heavy Cream – Heavy cream is recommended however half and half works here as well.
Roasted Tomatoes – (see above).
Baking Dish – A medium sized baking or roasting dish with vertical walls to roast the tomatoes in and hold the juices (those will be added to the pasta).
Large Pan – Large wide pan that can hold the orzo + broth comfortably. A word to the wise: if you are using a ceramic coated pan ie. like this braiser, the orzo may stick as it is cooking. Either use a different pan or mix more often.
HOW TO MAKE SPICY CALABRIAN CREAMY ORZO
Roast the Tomatoes – In an oven safe baking dish add cleaned, dried tomatoes. Coat in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add in the dried herbs, sliced Calabrian chili peppers, as well as 1-2 tsp of the chili oil. Roast in a 400-degree oven for 20-22 minutes until the tomatoes have just started to burst open.
Toast the Tomato Paste – In a pan over low-medium heat add the butter. Once melted add in the garlic, and cook until soft and fragrant approx. 2-3 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and crushed Calabrian chilies and toast for 5 minutes, mixing every 30 seconds to avoid burning. The tomato paste will deepen in color.
Add Pasta + Cook – Add the orzo, and chicken broth. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the orzo has absorbed the majority of the broth. If the orzo is still undercooked add an additional 1/4 cup of broth. Add in heavy cream. Fold in the roasted tomatoes, as well as the juices and oils from the roasting dish. Serve immediately.
Store spicy Calabrian creamy orzo in an airtight container for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. There are 2 ways to heat it up. The best way is to throw the orzo back in a pan with a splash of broth and heat on low until warmed throughout. The second method and the quickest way is to pop it in the microwave, however I highly recommend you try option 1.
Looking for other creamy pasta dishes? Check out the below!
4-5whole Calabrian chilissliced + 1-2 tsp of the oil (reduce to 2-3 is heat sensitive)
1-2tspcrushed Calabrian chilis
3 1/2-4 cupsbroth
Spicy Roasted Tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 400℉.
n a baking or roasting dish add the cleaned, dried tomatoes. Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil and add the dried herbs, sliced Calabrian chilies, and 1-2 tsp of the Calabrian chili oil. Give a toss and roast for 20-22 minutes until the tomatoes begin to burst open. Remove from the oven and place on the side.
In a pan over low-medium heat add the butter. Once melted add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant approx. 2-3 minutes.
Add in the tomatoes paste and crushed Calabrian chilis. Cook for 5 minutes until the tomato paste has deepened in color.
Add the orzo and 3 1/2 cups of broth. Mix to thoroughly combine.
Cook the orzo for 8-10 minutes, until the broth is mostly gone and the pasta is al dente. If the pasta is still a little hard once most of the broth his gone add in an additional 1/4 of a cup of broth.
Mix in the heavy cream.
Fold in the roasted tomatoes + the oils and juices from the baking dish. Serve immediately.