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What Is Rosa Marina Pasta?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Rosamarina or rosa marina pasta is basically identified as a synonym for orzo, which may also be called manestra. Depending upon where you live, you may find small pasta that looks very much like grains of rice and is usually made of semolina or durum wheat flour marketed as either orzo or rosa marina pasta. The pasta is very desirable for use in pilafs, soups or stews, and as a base for meat and vegetable dishes.

You can think of this pasta as rice that isn’t rice. If you’d like a slight taste change from rice to a wheat-based pasta, using rosamarina is a great way to go. You’ll find numerous dishes where this pasta is featured, many of them Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, where this tiny pasta is so popular. Yet you don’t have to stick to these recipes to enjoy rosa marina pasta. Just about any soup is delicious when orzo is added; it’s a great substitute in beef barley soup, which makes sense since orzo translates in Italian as barley.

Pasta salads made with rosa marina pasta can be excellent. Due to the size of the pasta, these are much denser than those salads made with larger noodles. Simple recipes for pasta salads can include things like a few veggies, and a light topping of vinegar, oil and lemon juice. Alternately, you can cook orzo as a breakfast food and top it with a bit of honey and cinnamon.

Another use for rosa marina is in casserole dishes. Again the density is an asset since you’ll be able to pack more pasta into a dish, increasing serving capacity. If you’re trying to please picky eaters, particularly children, you might want to look for rainbow colored orzo or rosa marina. The extra color, usually provided by vegetable dyes that you cannot taste, may tempt otherwise fussy eaters, and it can create lovely color contrast in dishes of all types, which can greatly enhance presentation.

Due to increasing popularity of rosa marina pasta, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding it at most larger grocery stores. Look for it near the other pasta varieties, and you might ask a grocery store to stock it if it isn’t on hand. Of course you can vary recipes that call for orzo by using other similar small pastas or grains. Rice and couscous can make good substitutes, and there are a number of tiny pastas called soup pastas that may be used instead.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By whiteplane — On Apr 12, 2012

There is a local pasta manufacturer in St. Louis that makes all kinds of unique dried pastas. One of their most famous is a rainbow orzo.

It is about five or six different colored grains of orzo. They colors are dulled, not rainbow bright so it is more appetizing than it sounds. The flavor has a vegetable hint to it but mostly tastes like regular pasta. But the colors allow you to do some interesting things with the presentation.

By chivebasil — On Apr 12, 2012

One of my favorite seafood pasta recipes has grilled shrimp and rosa marina pasta. It is amazing, especially when you can get good shrimp. It is also really easy to cook. I have been able to successfully cook it at a campfire before.

By tigers88 — On Apr 11, 2012

There is an Italian restaurant down the street from me that has a signature pasta of the month. I love the restaurant and I stop by at least once a month to try the pasta.

Last month it was a rosa marina pasta in a lemon wine sauce. It was amazing. I have had orzo and other similar pastas but I had never had a dish that was as good as this one. Orzo to me always seems like poor mans risotto or something.

By anon143345 — On Jan 15, 2011

Can anyone tell me the origins of Rosa Marina?

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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