Cheesy Vegetable Orzo is a quick, easy, economical side dish that will convert even your worst vegetable-haters into zucchini-eaters.
This Cheesy Vegetable Orzo recipe came to me many years ago by way of my friend Val, and it has become a staple on our table ever since.
When my kids were young, we ate this simple orzo recipe so often that it became a running gag. No matter how often I served it, someone always asked, "Is that rice?" And then everyone would stare expectedly at me until I told them, "No, that is not rice. That is orzo." And then everyone would nod like I had imparted some deep existential truth before they busted out laughing. Again.
This healthy orzo recipe is fast, easy to make, and extremely budget-friendly. It isn't a fancy recipe, but it goes with almost anything, and you can make it with basic kitchen staples.
- Onion: Use a yellow or sweet onion.
- Carrots: Avoid using "baby carrots". Full stop. They are usually bland, and often bitter.
- Zucchini: You can also use yellow squash.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic if possible.
- Basil: You can make this recipe with fresh basil, but dried basil works fine, too.
- Cheddar: You can use any melty cheddar or Jack cheese: CoJack, Pepper Jack, Monteray Jack, etc.
- Vegetable broth (or chicken broth): If you use homemade broth, thin it to the consistency of boxed broth.
- Cooking oil: Use a neutral cooking oil, like light olive oil or canola oil.
- Kosher Salt
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make this Easy Orzo Recipe
In a medium non-stick saucepan, sauté onion in olive oil until soft (about three minutes). Add garlic and sauté one minute more.
Add broth, grated carrots, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. (Add dried basil at this time if you aren't using fresh.)
Stir in the orzo. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is tender.
Remove from heat; stir in zucchini, cheese, and fresh basil if you are using it.
Cover and let stand about 3 minutes to allow the hot orzo mixture to melt the cheese and cook the grated zucchini.
Cooked vegetable orzo pasta will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Reheat leftovers on the stovetop or in the microwave.
This easy orzo recipe is a great way to help kids eat more vegetables!
Getting kids to eat their veggies can be tricky. One of my girls once survived for at least a month eating nothing but mac & cheese and fishy crackers. (Don't worry - she's fine now.) During that phase, Cheesy Orzo was the one thing I could get her to eat that had vegetables in it. Because she didn't know! The orzo disguised the grated veggies; and if she didn't ask, I wasn't telling!
Hint: Zucchini Fritters are another stealthy way to get more veggies on the plate.
Orzo is a small, oval, rice-shaped pasta, or pastini (little pasta). It is made from semolina flour, a course-ground flour made from durum wheat. Because it is made with semolina flour, it holds up well to cooking and won't get mushy.
More Vegetarian Side Dish Recipes
What to Serve with Orzo
Serve this easy side dish as you would rice pilaf. It pairs well with casseroles, sandwiches, roasted vegetables, and all manner of proteins (i.e., beef, chicken, pork, and fish).
Cheesy Vegetable Orzo
- 1 Grater
- 1 medium saucepan
- In a medium non-stick saucepan, sauté onion in olive oil until soft (about three minutes). Add garlic and sauté one minute more.
- Add broth, grated carrots, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. (Add dried basil at this time if you aren't using fresh.)
- Stir in the orzo. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is tender.
- Remove from heat; stir in zucchini, cheese, and fresh basil if you are using it. Cover and let stand about 3 minutes to allow the hot orzo mixture to melt the cheese and cook the grated zucchini.
- Serve warm.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
Thank you for visiting the Good Hearted Woman. Remember to bookmark this site, and come back soon!
This post was originally published August 22, 2013