Plant-Based Saffron Pilaf with Lamb Barilla® Chickpea Orzo

Recipe courtesy Chef Leyla Wheelhouse

Lamb Shanks:
8 lamb shanks
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp salt
1 c date molasses
2 c demi-glace
Chickpea Orzo:
10 oz Barilla® Chickpea Orzo
1 c raisins
1 Tbsp turmeric
1 pinch saffron
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
As needed salt and pepper
Fennel Salad:
1 bulb fennel, cored and sliced paper thin
1 lemon, juiced
2 tsp olive oil
As needed salt and pepper
Reserved fennel fronds

Lamb Shanks:

  1. Heat the oven to 450°
  2. Season the shanks all over with the coriander, cumin, cinnamon and salt. Place them in a hotel pan and roast for 20 to 25 minutes. Turn each shank over to cook for 10 minutes and color the other sides.
  3. Drizzle the date molasses over the shanks and add the demi-glace to the pan. Reduce the heat to 300°F, cover the pan with foil and roast for another 2 ½ hours.

Chickpea Orzo:

  1. Add the orzo to a medium pot over low heat along with the raisins, turmeric, saffron and oil. Toast for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring.
  2. Add 4 qt water, the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir constantly to evaporate the liquid, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat, cover the pot with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff the pilaf and add oil if needed to make it glossy. Check and adjust the seasoning.

Fennel Salad:

  1. Toss the fennel with the lemon juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper.


  1. Place a generous spoonful of Barilla Chickpea Orzo on a plate. Top with a lamb shank and place a spoonful of Fennel Salad alongside. Drizzle the plate with the drippings from the lamb. Garnish with reserved fennel fronds.

Chef Notes:

The unique and supple qualities of the Barila Chickpea Orzo make it the most coveted complement to any entree as both the starch and vegetable. The orzo has the ability to take on rich flavors and stand up on its own as sophisticated pilaf. Here I am showcasing it paired with saffron and turmeric alongside a Baharat-spiced Lamb shank with fresh and crunchy, citrusy fennel.