Healthy, delicious, colorful, great aroma, amazing mouth feel–hard to believe that you can get that all in one simple dish. Well, here’s that dish!

Orzo (which literally means “barley” in Italian), which also goes by the name risoni, is a form of short cut pasta, which looks like barley or rice. Since it is pasta it does contain gluten, but if you’re gluten-free, you can substitute the orzo in this dish with your favorite gluten free pasta, rice, cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles. Cooking orzo is easy, just like cooking any pasta but I have two ways. Follow the recipe below and cook with stock or bring a big pot of salted water to the boil, add the orzo and cook until “al dente” or firm to the bite, around 8 minutes. I like to add stock as it adds flavor to the orzo. The size might vary from brand to brand, so check the cooking instructions on the package for best cooking times.

While you’re cooking the kahala and boiling the orzo, it’s easy to knock out the pesto and prepare the remaining ingredients, then it’s a simple matter of putting everything together for an amazingly simple, healthy family meal that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and cook. 

Forever Oceans™ Kanpachi (Amberjack) with Pesto Orzo Pasta

Serves 4


4x 6oz Forever Oceans™ Kanpachi (Amberjack) belly cuts (cod, salmon, hake, sea bass)

Sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil


How to make:

Season the kahala with salt and pepper. Place a medium size frying pan on the stove over a medium to high heat, add the oil, when hot, carefully add the fillets. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then carefully turn each fillet over and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the fillets from the pan and place on dish paper. Keep warm. 


2 cups orzo

3 to 4 cups low in sodium vegetable stock or chicken stock

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into halves

½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half


How to make:

Place a large pot on the stove over a high heat, add the orzo and stock, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the orzo is cooked, but tender and until the stock has been absorbed. Stir in the pesto, cherry tomatoes and olives, taste and season if needed. 


2 cups fresh basil leaves

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

⅓ cup pine nuts

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salt (optional)


How to make:

 Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend for 20 seconds, scrape down the sides of the processor, then continue to blend until smooth. Season to taste.

To serve, equally divide the orzo between four plates or bowls, top with Forever Oceans™ Kanpachi (Amberjack) and sprinkle over miro greens or basil leaves (both optional) serve and enjoy.


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Original recipe:

Mark William Allison

Corporate Executive Chef Forever Oceans