Kritharaki is a dish common to many a Greek home. It is made using risoni, also known as orzo. This is pasta in the shape of a large rice grain. Lots of people assume it’s rice but don’t be fooled!
Husband likes kritharaki and was quite pleased when I sent him email telling him I was making it for dinner:
Growing up, mum’s kritharaki was one of my favourite meals. My dad says it’s in his top 5 meals and probably in first place. For such a simple, humble little dish that only uses stock as flavouring, that’s a pretty big thing.
Mum’s kritharaki is non-vegan most of the time so today I decided to veganise it. The measurements are ‘rough’ in that I added a bit more-or-less here and there. You may need to add more or less water for instance, it just all depends. Sorry, that’s as useless as this attempt to light the stove tonight:
No, there are no fresh or dried herbs. This is plain plain plain but for me it’s comfort food. And don’t forget that if you have fifty Greek yiayias (grandmothers) in the room, you’ll probably have fifty different ways of making kritharaki 🙂
Okay so this is what I did. Measurements are metric so 1 cup is 250ml.
You will need olive oil, a packet of risoni/orzo pasta, tomato paste, mild paprika (optional), boiling water, vegan chicken or beef stock flavour, nutritional yeast (optional), salt and pepper to taste.
* have a full kettle boiled and ready to go. Boil it again until right before adding the water. Boil about 8 cups worth at least.
* heat 2Tbs olive oil in a medium to large pot.
* add in 1 1/2 cups of uncooked risoni/orzo and sautee it for about 5 minutes on medium heat:
* add in 2 heaped Tbs of tomato paste (add 4 heaped Tbs for a more tomatoey flavour), stir it around for about a minute:
* optional: add a teaspoon of a mild paprika (more or less if you like).
* add in 6 cups of boiling water. It should look like a really runny soup:
* add in the vegan beef or chicken stock powder according to your packet instructions. Stir well.
* Bring to the boil over high heat, stir, put the lid on and simmer until the risoni is tender. During this cooking period, stir now and then to make sure things aren’t clumping together. Then turn off the heat when you feel it’s done:
* Add about 1Tbs nutritional yeast (optional, or add more/less according to your liking), add salt to taste. Stir well (obviously). * OR leave out the nutritional yeast and add it to the individual bowls when you’re serving
* Put the lid back on and let it sit about ten minutes before dishing it out:
* Season with pepper:
When this cools down and is ready for the fridge, it will have thickened up a bit. It shouldn’t be runny-soupy but it shouldn’t be dry.
And that’s it! Extremely simple! Sure you could add in herbs if you like or some veg but my personal preference is to leave this as is. I won’t even add onion or garlic because this is the only way I ever ate kritharaki (well, I had vegan and non-vegan versions growing up) and for me to add something like garlic just changes the recipe completely. I do understand that this would easily be considered a horribly bland boring dish by some, but I find it a welcome relief now and then. This is a dish that is sentimental to me, hence my reluctance in changing it at all. My grandmother used to say that with enough pepper it will put hair on your face:
Me: “Quick, easy, cheap comfort food. Pepper pepper pepper.”
Arthur: “this is 90% yuck. Actually make that 75% yuck.”
DeeW: “yayyy did someone say kritharaki? Oh I’m so happy!”
Husband: “This is my third bowl. Yes, it’s good.”