Pesto Orzo is quick and easy to prepare meatless dinner that doubles as garnish which can be served alongside your favorite grilled meats and seafood. This colorful summertime recipe takes just 30 minutes and requires one skillet—perfect for busy weeknight family dinners. Make your own basil pesto or use a store-bought pesto. This popular pasta dish is great for sharing Picnics, potlucks and cookouts.
Pesto Orzo – meatless dinner or side dish
This recipe is a quick and easy mix of orzo pasta, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, pine nuts, fresh basil, and of course, basil pesto. You can make your own basil pesto or use a store-bought variety. Pesto Orzo is packed with flavor and can be made at the last minute – it’s that easy! It is versatile and easily adaptable to any ingredient available. Various types of vegetables and cheeses can be used here. You can even add your favorite protein, e.g. B. boiled roast chicken, pan-fried shrimp, baked salmon or your favorite grilled meats.
Why you will love it
- 30 minute pasta meal for the week in one pan. Pesto Orzo is my favorite quick dinner recipe. It requires simple ingredients, takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, and you only need one skillet! The cleaning effort is minimal. Store-bought basil pesto works great here!
- Great for leftovers. This pasta dish is easy to reheat and makes a great lunch the next day!
- Versatile recipe. Use your favorite veggies. I love cherry tomatoes with pesto orzo, but feel free to add roasted peppers, asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, or artichokes.
- Audience-loving supplement. Pesto Orzo is a must-have in your summer recipe repertoire. It can be prepared in advance, keeps well chilled and can be served at room temperature. Bring it to picnics, potlucks, cookouts, and other celebrations. It has become a staple at my family’s summer get togethers!
What is orzo?
Orzo is a short pasta shaped like long grain rice. It is made from flour, like ordinary pasta. Orzo is often made from semolina (durum wheat used to make pasta).
How do you cook orzo?
Typically, orzo is cooked in a 1:2 ratio to water, for example 1 cup orzo in 2 cups water, or 1.5 cups orzo in 3 cups water. Cook according to packet instructions, which usually means 10 minutes. If the orzo is too dry, you may need to add a small amount of liquid about five minutes into the cooking process to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. You can use water, chicken broth, beef broth, or vegetable broth to cook orzo.
Pesto Orzo (one pan, 30 minute meal)
Pesto Orzo is a quick and easy meatless dinner that doubles as garnish which can be served alongside your favorite grilled meats and seafood. This colorful summertime recipe takes just 30 minutes and requires one skillet—perfect for busy weeknight family dinners. Make your own basil pesto or use a store-bought pesto. This dish is a crowd favorite Great for sharing at picnics, potlucks and cookouts.
- 1.5 cups orzo
- 3 cups Water
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 cloves Garlic chopped
- 10 oz cherry tomatoes (red and yellow), halved
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ lemon
- ¼ Cup Basil pesto
- 5 oz fresh mozzarella cheese “Pearls” – small balls
- ¼ Cup pine nuts
- fresh basil leaves
- salt and pepper
In a large, high-sided skillet, combine orzo and water. Bring to the boil briefly, reduce to a visible simmer and cook covered for approx. 10 minutes (according to package instructions). After five minutes of cooking, check the orzo and stir it so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Orzo is done when all the water has been absorbed and the orzo has a nice soft consistency like cooked pasta. You may need to add more water at the end if the orzo is undercooked or the water evaporates too quickly.
Place the cooked orzo in a large bowl.
In the same now-empty pan, add olive oil, minced garlic, half the cherry tomatoes (save the other half for later), red chilli flakes, dried oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until tomatoes release juice and garlic is soft, 4 minutes.
Add the cooked orzo, the juice of half a lemon, the remaining cherry tomatoes, and most of the basil pesto. Mix well.
In a separate bowl (you can use the same bowl you used to keep the cooked orzo in), brush the mozzarella pearls with the remaining basil pesto. Add them to the orzo, stirring in some and layering others over the pasta.
Season with salt and red pepper flakes.
Top with pine nuts and fresh basil leaves.
The nutritional information on this website is an estimate only and is provided for convenience and courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for each recipe on this website cannot be guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a professional nutritionist.
What goes well with pesto orzo?
Add your favorite protein to make this pasta dish a balanced, complete meal. Simple ideas include leftover cooked chicken, roast chicken, grilled meat, shrimp, salmon, or scallops. Here are my favorite protein-based recipes that go well with pesto orzo:
Other Orzo Recipes You May Like
Substitutions, Variations and Add-ins
- Pasta. You can make this recipe with any other type of short pasta such as bow tie (farfalle), spiral pasta (fusilli), penne or rigatoni.
- rice is a great (and gluten-free!) substitute for orzo. After all, orzo has a very similar shape to rice!
- Basil pesto. I love making basil pesto from scratch, but the store-bought version works great in this recipe! I prefer pesto, which is available in grocery store refrigerated sections.
- Vegetables. The beauty of pesto orzo is that it goes well with most vegetables. Choose your favorites or whatever you have available! I recommend tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, spinach, and arugula.
- Cheese. I used mozzarella pearls (small balls of fresh mozzarella cheese). You can also use diced or grated parmesan, asiago, or feta.
- nuts are optional but add so much to the pesto orzo. My favorites are pine nuts and pistachios.
- add protein. Leftover cooked chicken, roast chicken, grilled meat and seafood add a protein boost to this pasta dish.
- Add cream - it gives deliciousness and richness.
- Refrigerator. Store Pesto Orzo in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days!
- Freezer. You can freeze it for up to 2 months.
- stovetop. Reheat in any suitable sized saucepan over low-medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil while reheating, stirring frequently. You can also add more basil pesto instead of olive oil when reheating.
- Microwave. In a deep, high-sided, microwave-safe bowl, heat the pesto orzo for about 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave, stir well. Return to the oven and reheat for at least 30 seconds until heated through. Add a touch of fresh basil pesto for extra flavor.