Cheesy Vegetable Orzo is a super-easy, deliciously wholesome side dish [or mac-n-cheese substitute] that will convert even your worst “vegetable-haters” into “zucchini-eaters.”
I have this little eye-roller that makes me laugh inside my head every time I make Cheesy Vegetable Orzo: when I put it on the table, someone always asks, “Is that rice?” And every time, I say, “No – it’s orzo. Orzo is rice-shaped pasta.” Which sounds a lot more educational than entertaining, but the thing is, I’m pretty sure I’ve said that like fifty times in the last ten years, and I can guarantee the next time I make it, someone will ask again. So either I am very easily entertained or they are slow learners. Maybe both. Sigh.
Anywho, I got this recipe I got from my good friend, Val, many years ago and it has become a staple on our table, especially during zucchini season. I love it! It’s fast and easy to make, very economical, goes with practically anything, makes great leftovers, and you can even feed it to your “zucchini haters” – they’ll likely never even recognize that the vegetables are there.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups vegetable broth*
- 1 cup grated carrots
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 cup orzo, uncooked
- 1 cup shredded zucchini
- 2 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 Tbs chopped fresh basil
- In a medium non-stick saucepan, saute onion in olive oil until soft (about three minutes). Add garlic and saute one minute more.
- Add broth, carrots, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. (*If I use a commercially prepared vegetable broth, I omit the salt. If I use a homemade one, I dilute it dramatically so that the broth flavor doesn't overpower the other vegetables.)
- Add orzo. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until orzo is tender. Remove from heat; stir in zucchini, cheese and fresh basil. Cover and let stand 2 minutes.