Orzo Pasta with Parmesan and Basil

August 24th, 2011

One of my favorite side dishes has always been a rice pilaf.  I saute rice in a saucepan with melted butter, then add chicken broth and cook on low heat until done.  It is seasoned with tarragon if I am serving it with chicken.

I was on the pasta aisle of the supermarket recently and saw the bags of orzo; small rice shaped nuggets.  Hmmmm – why not cook it like a pilaf?  That is just what I did and I loved it.  My basil plants are huge this time of year so I seasoned it with a big handful of fresh basil and slathered it with grated Parmesan.

This made a perfect side dish to the stuffed 8 ball zucchini squash that I posted about on Sunday.  I have also served it with grilled chicken.  I think it would also be wonderful with a veal Parmesan.  It is going on my list of everyday meal rotations because it is so easy and I can always have the ingredients in the pantry.  It is a fun way to eat pasta without having to twirl it around a fork.


2 Tablespoons of butter
1 cup orzo pasta
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add orzo and stir in butter.  Cook until orzo is evenly coated with butter and is beginning to brown.  Add chicken broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover saucepan.  Cook on low heat until orzo is cooked through and chicken broth is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove lid and add chopped basil, grated Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 4.

If you have leftovers, you can use them in those cute 8 ball zucchini squash.  I cooked 1/2 pound of ground beef until done, drained the fat, added chopped tomatoes, Italian seasoning and cooked until the tomatoes released their juices.  Then I added the orzo, stirred the mixture together and used it to stuff the zucchini and the small red peppers that I got from the market.   I topped it with buttered breadcrumbs and baked it for about an hour.  The possiblities are limitless.  Because the 8 ball squash tops are so cute I baked them along side the squash and peppers.  I just oiled the underside so that they would not stick to the pan.

Printable recipe Orzo

10 responses to “Orzo Pasta with Parmesan and Basil”

  1. I’ve fallen in love with orzo too. It’s so versatile and cooks so much quicker than the brown rice I normally use. Love both recipes Penny. Your photos are stunning.

    Have you tried whole wheat orzo? I have a bag on the shelf, but yet to use it. I love brown rice, so I think I might like it.

  2. Kat says:

    Sounds like something I can do. I have plenty of basil for it too. Love the photos.

  3. That sounds great Penny. I always have those ingredients on hand too! Guess what I am fixing as a side dish tonight..thanks for the idea!

  4. The creamy sweetness of a long cooked Orzo can’t be beat! And flavoring with cheese is a great idea (try blue cheese one day). But those cute squash… gotta find them!

  5. I love orzo and have always bought the quick cooking packages. Next year when my herbs are a little more generous to me, I’ll try making it from scratch. It looks delicious!!


  6. bellini says:

    The last time I was at Pike Place Market in Seattle they had orzo of every different colour imaginable and Spring and Fall mixes. I love it all.

  7. Jann says:

    Another delicious recipe for orzo!

  8. Pondside says:

    I really like orzo but TGD is not so fond of it – I’ll bet he’d like this, though.

  9. Orzo is so fantastic. I make a huge batch of orzo salad every few weeks and then eat it for days – add black beans, chick peas, halved grape tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, basil, mint and then make a vinaigrette for it. Heavenly!!

  10. Big Dude says:

    Sounds like a delicious dish Penny. I’m not a big fan of rice, but love orzo as a substitute.

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