Orzo-Crust Pizza, Moroccan cooking class

I use shredded potatoes or brown rice for my quiche crust why not pasta for a pizza crust?

My usual puff pastry makes a thin, light pizza; this is more of a deep-dish pizza.

Mon mari claims that ‘deep-dish pizza isn’t pizza’.

I don’t care –  I like it, and this is as close as I can come with the ingredients on hand

Orzo cooks in 15 minutes, and when done ‘risotto’ style is a bit sticky lending itself to a making a crust.

I used salami, but pepperoni, ham or chicken would also be good.

Orzo-Crust Pizza

Total time: 50 minutes


  • 1/2 cup (4.5oz, 125gr) orzo
  • 1 1/4 cups (10oz, 300ml) chicken stock
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (1oz, 30gr) shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 8oz (240ml) tomato sauce
  • 4oz (120gr) salami
  • 1/2 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green or black (Greek) olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Orzo Crust Pizza


  • Put orzo and stock in small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Cover and cook until orzo is done and stock absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  • Remove orzo and spread on a plate to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Lightly oil a 9 – 10″ (22 – 25 cm) pie or quiche plate.
  • Lightly whisk the egg.
  • Add 1/4 cup cheese and the orzo.  Mix well.
  • Pat into the quiche plate, working it up the sides as best you can.
  • Bake in 400F (200C) oven for 10 minutes.
  • Remove crust and spread tomato sauce evenly over the top.
  • Spread onions and peppers over the tomato sauce.
  • Lay the salami slices on top.
  • Sprinkle with olives and herbs.
  • Spread cheese evenly over the top.
  • Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes longer.
  • Remove, and let rest a minute.  Cut and serve.

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Since we are a family that loves good food it was only natural that we have a cooking class in Marrakesh.

We spent a fantastic few hours, cooking and eating, at the Amal Women’s Training Center and Moroccan Restaurant. In their words the Amal Center is a non-profit association dedicated to the empowerment of disadvantaged women through restaurant training and job placement.

We were given a tour and information about the center before our cooking class started. The center was started in 2012 by an American woman, Norah Fitzgerald, born in Morocco. The purpose was to help disadvantaged women – women who are divorced or widowed or single mothers or kicked out of their family home with no skills and living on the streets.

They are taught whatever is needed to help make them self-supporting – from basic reading, writing and math to cooking, baking and waiting table to language, proper behavior and hygiene. The course lasts six months, then the graduates are helped to find a job,


The restaurant serves app.100 lunches each day as well as caters a local school lunch program and has a small but popular bakery.

There are 15 employees and 15 students and they accomplish all of this in a rather small kitchen and a sunny courtyard.

These two women were making a type of Moroccan biscoti for the bakery.


This woman is making French fries (chips). The oil-filled pan is sitting on a free-standing gas burner connected to a bottle gas tank by the red tube.


These are the vegetables that were delivered for the class and for lunch service.


This is our teacher with everything lined up for our cooking class.


Because we were 9 people we were able to cook 3 separate dishes: 2 tagines and 1 couscous.

The tagines were cooked over charcoal and the couscous over a stand-alone gas burner. Note the little stool and bellows used to fan the coals.


We made a Chicken and Preserved Lemon Tagine. She used the pulp as well as the rind of the lemons. All of my cookbooks say to discard the pulp. I’ll use it all next time.


Also a Lamb, Prune and Almond Tagine. We were all amazed by the amount of olive oil that went into to all of the dishes.


And a Vegetable Couscous.

For me the couscous dish was the most, er, educational. All of the long vegetables, carrots, zucchini, eggplant, leeks, etc. were simply cut in half the long way before being added to the pot. They were boiled in water in the aluminum couscousiere you can see in the prep. photo above.

But the couscous itself was really interesting: First it was rubbed with a few tbs of olive oil for about 5 minutes with fingers. Then it was steamed over the cooking vegetables for 10 minutes.


It was taken out of the steamer, tossed to cool down a bit then rubbed with a few more tbs of olive oil, again using fingers. It went back in the steamer and the whole process was repeated 2 more times.

The rest of the vegetables – tomatoes, chickpeas, garlic, as well as the herbs and spices were all combined and spooned over the finished couscous.

It was all wonderful.

Thankfully they gave us all copies of the recipes – although we’ll just have to remember the techniques.

Last update on October 25, 2015

10 thoughts on “Orzo-Crust Pizza, Moroccan cooking class”

  1. Katie the food looks amazing. What an interesting process for the couscous. I have a Lebanese friend, and they too use a lot of olive oil…their food also tastes great!

  2. Fantastic!

    I have three questions:
    1. About how much olive oil was rubbed into the couscous before it was steamed?
    2. Did they talk about whether it was better to have glazed or unglazed tagines?
    3. Is there really no hole in the top of the tagine lid?

  3. Kate, I was fascinated by the couscous….

    Zoomie, thanks – it was fun.

    Ina, it was fantastic – and lots of olive oil.

    sullimaybe, it was – and delicious.

    Elizabeth, olive oil was added 3 different times, 1 – 2 tbs each time…. so, lots!. No discussion about the tagines, but they were glazed – and no hole in the top. A hole would let the steam escape. 😉

    • I would have thought they might want the steam to escape. The tagines that I’ve seen in photos of Moroccan markets are always unglazed – and the only tagines available here are always glazed. They’re also very expensive. So we use a wok to make a tagine. (hmmm, should we be calling our Moroccan-style stews “woks”?)

      Wow! That IS lots of olive oil! I guess we’re going to have to try that to see how it tastes.

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