Greek Orzo Recipe (Kritharaki) – Orzo Paella with Seafood

Greek Orzo Recipe (Kritharaki) – Orzo Paella with Seafood

This is my Orzo Paella recipe with seafood inspired by a traditional Greek Orzo recipe called kritharaki.

This Greek orzo recipe originates from a humble Cypriot dish called ‘Kritharaki’ but I’ve added a few extras to create something new and utterly mouthwatering; an orzo paella (with a secret ingredient)!

Watch my video recipes below.

What is Orzo I hear you ask? Well, orzo are small rice shaped pasta which is extremely versatile. You can make an orzo salad, treat it like regular pasta and mix in with any sauce that you’d normally use pasta for, like a carbonara, or in this instance I’ve gone for an orzo paella.

Many people refer to orzo as orzo rice; that’s purely due to its shape and size – it’s not rice, it’s pasta. 

I love seafood and this Greek orzo recipe is a perfect midweek meal to get more seafood in our diets. In saying that, you can really turn this orzo paella into something quite sophisticated that would sit well at any dinner party, but more on that later..and the secret ingredient.

Here’s my orzo paella video recipe:

First we’re going to cook the orzo (the Kritharaki) then we’re going to cook the seafood part and combine them both at the end.

Kritharaki on it’s own goes really well as an accompaniment to another meal such as a roast chicken, pork chops or anything really!

Oh! I almost forgot – so what’s the secret ingredient? A shot of Ouzo! Ouzo has that strong anise flavour that really compliments fish and shellfish (the same way dill does), if used in small amounts it really is a great addition to your store cupboard to just lift a seafood dish to life.

Greek Orzo Recipe (kritharaki) – Orzo Paella:

1.5 cups / 375ml Orzo pasta

2-3 cups / 500-750ml chicken stock

Few glugs / 30ml extra virgin olive oil

1/2 red onion diced

3 cloves garlic diced

Handful chopped fresh parsley

1/2 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon dried oregano

350g (1 packet) mixed shellfish – defrosted*

1/2 cup / 125ml frozen peas

1 shot / 25ml Ouzo

Teaspoon chilli flakes

*Note – when I cook this at home to cuddle up to I just use frozen mixed shellfish for convenience. If you want to up your game a bit (i.e. dinner party) invest in some fresh mussels, king prawns, chop some squid, even a few big chunks of monk fish and a couple of langoustines to give a wow factor.

Orzo Paella Method:

  1. Start frying the red onion and then the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes.
  2. Add the orzo pasta and coat with the oil in the pan and fry for another minute before adding the tinned chopped tomatoes and the dried oregano.
  3. Add 2/3 of the chicken stock and reduce the heat to a simmer and pop the lid on the pan (check this periodically as you may need to add more stock or water if you run out if it starts to dry out).
  4. Cook the orzo pasta for about 15-20mins on a low heat and covered, stirring occasionally (you are looking for an al-dente texture to the Orzo pasta and to be a little loose).

At this stage you have made Kritharaki – perfect to serve as is. But it you want an Orzo Paella… then continue. 

  1. Add the seafood and peas and mix through the Kritharaki.
  2. Gently pour the Ouzo on top and DON’T MIX – instead, light the Ouzo and let it flambe – this will cook out the alcohol. Once the flames have gone give it a stir.
  3. Garnish with seasoning, parsley and chilli flakes.


Goes well with a nice chunk of fresh bread, my fabulous rainbow salad and a chilled glass of dry white wine!


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