Fennel Seed Flavored Orzo

A few weeks ago, I took a big bowl of this pasta to a tailgate party for my son’s cross country meet. Some of the people liked the dish a lot and asked me for the recipe and so this morning I made another batch of it and took pictures as I went along, so I could upload it on the blog. If you have to feed a large group of people, this is a flavorful, delicious and easy meal to make. It is especially good for potlucks and picnics because it can be served hot or at room temperature and if any is leftover it’s a great next-day packed lunch. I usually add various colored bell peppers and zucchini and yellow squash to it but if you’d like to add any other kind of vegetables, that will be okay too because the dominant taste of the pasta comes from the Italian sausage and the Fennel Seed. The vegetables add color, texture and of course nutritionally, they balance the dish out as well.


1. 1 lb of Sweet Italian Sausage
2. 1 lb of orzo
3. One zucchini
4. 1 yellow squash
5. 1 medium red onion
6. 3-4 cloves of garlic
7. 2-3 sweet bell peppers (various colors)
8. 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
9. 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds
10. 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
11. Salt and freshly grated black pepper (according to taste)
12. 8.5 oz jar of Sun-dried tomatoes in Olive oil (I got it from Trader Joe’s)
13. 1.5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


1. In a large heavy bottomed pan, pour the olive oil and brown the Italian sausage in it over medium to high heat.

2. While the sausages are getting browned, peel and finely dice the onion and the garlic cloves.
3. Keep stirring the sausages, so they get browned evenly on all sides and till the casing gets a little crisp (at this point they are half cooked). This process usually takes about 4-5 minutes.

4. Then one by one take the sausage out and using a sharp knife, slice them in bite sized pieces.
5. Place the sliced pieces of sausage back in the pan and cook them for another 2-3 minutes.

6. Add the sliced onion and garlic to the pot and stir.

7. While the onion is getting cooked, de-seed the bell peppers and chop the flesh of the peppers in small diced pieces.
8. Add the chopped pepper pieces to the pot and stir.

9. Also add the fennel, red pepper flakes and the black pepper.

10. Squeeze the oil out of the sun-dried tomatoes and add them to the pot. Don’t throw away the olive oil from the jar of tomatoes – it is full of flavor and you will need some of it later to add to the orzo and the rest of it you can use in other dishes. It is great in salad dressing and vinaigrettes (it has some dried herbs in it and also the flavor of the dried tomatoes seeps through the oil).

11. Thinly slice the zucchini and yellow squash and then add to the pot and stir.

12. Fill a second large pot with water and fill it ¾ of the way through. Add salt to the water and bring the water to boil. When the water is bubbling, add the orzo and cook it till it is done to al-dente level.

13. Drain the water out of the orzo.

14. Pour the drained orzo to a large mixing bowl and pour about a tablespoon or so of olive oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes…this is to prevent the orzo from sticking together.

15. Add the sausage and vegetable mixture to the orzo and gently toss everything together.

16. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and stir everything together. You can serve this dish either while it is still hot or at room temperature.


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