It’s been a long, cold winter, with one of us constantly down with the flu, a cold, a sinus infection, or an ear infection. When my husband asked me to make comfort food from his childhood, it sounded like just the thing. But when he told me the recipe, I was instantly disappointed. It just sounded too simplistic. Not interesting at all. But then I realized: comfort food is simple. Maybe that’s part of what makes it so comforting. I’m always interested in the comfort foods in other cultures, so why shouldn’t I embrace a Greek one?
So what is manestra? It’s another name for orzo, the small rice-shaped pasta that is often called kritharaki / κριθαράκι in Greek. It can be made in any number of ways, but this is probably the simplest.
Start by assembling the ingredients: orzo, diced onion, a little ground beef, and a can of diced tomatoes in their juice.
Measure out three times as much water as orzo. Put the water and the tomatoes in a pot and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile saute the onions in a tiny bit of olive oil.
When they’re translucent, add the ground beef and brown it.
When the water boils, add the orzo. Stir frequently, or it will stick to the bottom of the pot. When most of the water is absorbed, stir in the meat and onions. Turn off the heat, put a kitchen towel over the pot and then cover it with the lid. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Season with salt.
Serve with grated myzithra cheese (or parmesan). And be comforted :)
1 cup orzo
3 cups water
1 can (400g) diced tomatoes in their juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
170g ground beef
2 tbsp shredded myzithra cheese (or parmesan)
1. Bring water and tomatoes with their juice to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, saute onions in olive oil. When translucent, add ground beef and brown for several minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. When water boils, stir in orzo. Stir frequently. When most water is absorbed, stir in meat and onions and turn off heat. Cover pot with a kitchen towel and lid, and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
4. Season; serve with myzithra.
per serving, i.e., 1/2of the total recipe
25g fat (9g saturated, 16g unsaturated)
7g dietary fiber
70mg cholesterol (23% DV)
416mg sodium (17% DV)
1,070mg potassium (31% DV)
Contains a significant amount (+10% DV) of the following:
vitamin A, calcium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, iron, riboflavin, folic acid, folate, vitamin b-12, manganese, and copper.