You are going to love this Pesto Orzo! This recipe has deliciously chewy orzo, flavorful pesto and juicy cherry tomatoes. This is a great weeknight recipe because it is easy to make and pairs well with a variety of main course dishes.
About the Recipe
This flavorful and vibrant dish combines the nutty, garlicky flavor of pesto with the chewy texture of the orzo pasta. It is perfect to make when time is limited during the week or when you want a comforting weekend meal.
Make this as a main course or serve it as an easy side dish. You can serve it with a grilled or roasted protein and a nice green salad for a complete meal.
You can make homemade pesto with pine nuts, fresh basil, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and extra virgin olive oil in a food processor, or just buy a jar of pesto from the store to make your life easier!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Delicious - The fresh taste of the pesto combined with the orzo and sweet cherry tomatoes will leave you feeling quite satisfied. Topping this orzo dish with salty parmesan cheese and fresh basil helps to bring out those flavors even more. Everyone will love this and it’s perfect to make for a crowd.
Simple - This is an easy recipe that requires minimal preparation and cooking time. With a few basic ingredients and pantry staples, you can get this meal on the table in no time!
Versatile - You could easily customize this dish to your liking. Add protein like chicken or shrimp to make it a hearty main course, add vegetables for some additional nutrients and pick your favorite variety of pesto!
Here are the simple ingredients you will need for this pesto orzo pasta:
- Orzo: Any variety of dry orzo is fine. You may also use whole wheat if you prefer.
- Olive oil
- Onion: Use a minced white onion.
- Garlic: Fresh minced garlic cloves are going to be best.
- Cherry tomatoes: Halved cherry tomatoes. You can also use grape tomatoes.
- Salt & black pepper
- Pesto: Check out my Green Goddess Pesto and Mint and Basil Pesto recipes! Or if you don't have time to make homemade basil pesto, store bought jarred pesto is just fine!
- Basil: Fresh basil for garnish.
Let's make this pesto orzo recipe together!
Step 1: Cook orzo according to package directions in a large pot of water, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid before draining. I like to make mine al dente. If you're making your own pesto - make it while the orzo cooks!
Step 2: In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until softened.
Step 3: Add the garlic, tomatoes, salt, and pepper and satué for an additional minute.
Step 4: Add the cooked orzo to the pan and stir well to combine.
Step 5: Add the pesto and stir well. If the orzo is dry, add the cooking liquid, ¼ cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
Step 6: Top with parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve and enjoy!
Expert Tips and Tricks
Here are some expert tips to make this great recipe:
Complete the meal - Make this a complete meal by adding a grilled or roasted protein and a nice green salad.
Utilize leftovers - Pack up leftovers in airtight containers that you can easily grab for lunch or dinner later in the week.
Pasta water - Be sure to reserve some pasta water before you drain the orzo. You can do this by scooping out some of the water with a measuring cup.
Here is some kitchen equipment you will need for this orzo recipe. You can find all of these products on Amazon.
Large Skillet - You'll want a high quality large skillet with high sides.
Cooking Spoons - Need to upgrade your cooking utensils? Check out this set!
Orzo - Can't find orzo in the grocery store? Buy it here online!
Here are some common recipe substitutions and variations for this delicious recipe.
Additions - Add protein like chicken breasts, chicken thighs, or shrimp, or vegetables like broccoli, red bell pepper, or green beans. Stir in some feta cheese or fresh mozzarella pearls.
Tomatoes - Try sun dried tomatoes, fire roasted tomatoes or chopped roma tomatoes.
Pasta - Small pasta shapes are a great substitute for orzo.
What To Serve With
Here are some easy dinner recipes to serve alongside this dish:
Margherita Flatbread - This Margherita Flatbread is made with slices of fresh tomatoes, flavorful basil, gooey mozzarella cheese, and dollops of pesto all on top of a crispy flatbread crust.
Lemon Pepper Salmon - This simple lemon pepper salmon recipe is perfect for a quick and healthy dinner. A hearty portion of juicy salmon is coated with a lemon pepper and garlic mixture and topped with lemon slices while it bakes in the oven.
Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash - This sausage stuffed acorn squash recipe has savory sausage and mushrooms, sweet flavors of acorn squash, and fresh herbs, this dish is delicious and packed with earthy flavors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Orzo is a small rice-shaped pasta that is chewy in texture. It is perfect for soups and salads and pairs well with a variety of other ingredients.
This is best freshly made, but is also delicious warmed up as leftovers. You can heat it up or even serve it cold!
If you wanted to use something besides orzo, you could use another small cut pasta like pastina, ditalini or anci de pepe.
Recipe Storage and Reheating
Here are storage and reheating instructions for this pesto orzo recipe.
Refrigerator Storage: Store in an airtight container and eat leftovers within 4-5 days.
Freezer Storage: Freeze in a freezer-safe, airtight container and keep for up to 3 months. When you're ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator and reheat as instructed below.
Reheating Instructions: The best way to reheat this recipe is to heat in a skillet with a little olive oil over low heat until warm. You can also reheat in the microwave.
Other Recipes to Try
- 1 lb orzo
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 white onion minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 8 oz cherry tomatoes sliced
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- ½ cup pesto
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese for serving
- Fresh basil for serving
- Cook orzo according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining.
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add white onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and tomatoes, salt, and pepper and sauté for an additional minute.
- Add cooked orzo, and salt and pepper to the pan. Stir well. Add pesto and stir. If orzo is dry, add pasta water ¼ cup at a time.
- Top with parmesan cheese and fresh basil and serve.