nourish

Pantry-friendly orzo skillet dinner is ready in a half-hour.

In the kitchen, a reliable formula can feel like a lifeline. You plug variables into a tried-and-true pattern and you wind up with consistently good results. That’s what this orzo skillet dinner has been for me for years, a trail guide for a tasty, healthful, one-pan meal that is adaptable to the ingredients I have on hand.

The dish pivots on the orzo. If you have that, you can riff on the rest using the basic framework that follows. (I use whole-grain orzo, but regular works perfectly, too. Other small pasta shapes or grains, such as rice, would also be likely to work, but the cook time and liquid needed for those would probably differ.)

First, heat an allium in oil — here I use an onion, but you could opt for leeks, shallots, garlic, scallions or a combination of those. Add the orzo to the skillet and stir to coat it in the oil and toast it lightly, then add water and/or broth and simmer until the pasta is about halfway cooked. Toss in a few cups of tender vegetables and herbs — for this iteration I used peas, spinach and dill, but grape tomatoes, chopped asparagus, green beans, kale, Swiss chard or even frozen vegetables would work, as would any fresh, tender herb or, instead, a teaspoon or two of dried herbs. A squeeze of lemon juice adds a bright acidity, but a splash of white wine vinegar, lime or orange works, too.

Then comes the seafood — my usual is chunks of salmon — but any firm, fresh fish fillet would work, as would shrimp, scallops or even flakes of canned salmon or tuna. To make the dish vegetarian, you could add a drained can of beans instead.

A finishing sprinkle of briny feta on top makes the dish for me, but you could substitute soft goat cheese, or go for some sliced olives or capers to add a salty punch instead.

This recipe is fulfilling and packed with fresh spring flavors as written, but I hope you see it as a template to accommodate a range of ingredients. Just make sure to pick up some orzo next time you are at the store.

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