Toasted Orzo Smen Salad

Orzo – is it pasta or rice? Although shaped like a short grain, it is actually a pasta! It’s the perfect staple in soups and stews or even salads, like this toasted buttery herby orzo salad. Butter and noodles – a classic combination loved by children and adults alike.



toasted orzo smen salad


  • 1 cup dry orzo
  • 1 tsp chicken or vegetable bouillon paste
  • 4 tbsp CultureBox smen
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 large vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp shallots, roughly diced
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil (optional: extra for serving)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley (optional: extra for serving)
  • ⅓ tsp ground pepper
  • ⅔ tsp salt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ avocado, cubed (optional)

Slightly more mature than your childhood memory, these buttered noodles are made with smen. What is smen? It’s a fermented butter similar to ghee, very commonly found in Morocco. It has a cheesy flavor and aroma, like that of traditional cultured butter, but not as salty. To compensate for a balanced salty flavor, we recommend adding bouillon paste or a cube to your pasta water – the orzo will be salty but not overwhelmingly so. The combination of shallot (or red onion), garlic and fresh chopped herbs is the perfect spring dish that doesn’t take a long time to prepare or assemble.

This is also an easy meal prep option – when reheating, just place a damp paper towel over the dish so the microwave doesn’t overcook the pasta. This will keep it hydrated and not dry out, too. This simple pasta salad pairs perfectly with chickpeas, chicken, seafood, lamb, or just flying solo.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Dissolve bouillon in 2 cups of water.

Step 2

In a large saucepan, melt 2 tbsp of smen over medium-high heat. Once fully melted, add the orzo and stir every 30 seconds, for about 5 minutes.

Step 3

After 5 minutes and the orzo looks a little golden brown, stir in the 2 cups of bouillon water, bringing to a to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the water has fully evaporated. Once fully cooked, transfer to a separate bowl.

Step 4

Toss the orzo with the chopped fresh basil, parsley, 1 tbsp of smen, and ground pepper

Step 5

Lower the heat on the large saucepan to medium-low. Melt the remaining smen in the pan and add the shallot, cooking until fragrant and translucent. Add the garlic, wine, salt, and lemon juice, cooking until the garlic is fragrant then pour over the orzo.

Step 6

Serve and enjoy!

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