A recipe for Parmesan Basil Orzo! This easy side is delicious paired with grilled chicken or even on its own for a light lunch.
This Parmesan Basil Orzo comes together with minimal effort in less than 30 minutes. Best of all, you only need one pot! The orzo is toasted in butter until golden and simmered with garlic, chicken stock, and water until creamy and tender. Stir in Parmesan, shredded basil, salt, and pepper and serve immediately topped with toasted pine nuts.
Want to make this a more filling meal? Fold in some halved cherry tomatoes, spinach, and/or chopped grilled chicken.
Orzo is a short cut pasta that looks like over-sized rice with its tapered ends. It translates to barley in Italian and is sometimes referred to as rosa marina (slightly thinner than orzo) and manestra. Orzo is common in many cuisines throughout the Mediterranean. This dense little pasta is perfect for pilafs, salads, and soups/stews.
I toasted the pine nuts in the dry saucepan over medium heat before cooking the orzo. Stir constantly and be careful when toasting. They will quickly turn from golden to burnt.
Stir the orzo occasionally as it simmers, especially at the bottom of the pot to keep it from sticking. You will need to keep a closer eye on it as the level of liquid decreases. Most of the liquid will absorb, but you want the mixture to still be creamy enough to melt the Parmesan and lightly coat the orzo.
Adjust the amount of salt to taste. You may need more or less depending on the salt content of your chicken stock. Remember that the Parmesan will have a bit of saltiness as well.
Looking for more recipes with orzo? Try Cheesy Orzo, Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad, and Domatosoupa Me Kritharaki (Greek Tomato Soup with Orzo).
Parmesan Basil Orzo Recipe
Adapted from My Recipes
Parmesan Basil Orzo
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup dried orzo pasta
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for top
- 2 tablespoons fresh, finely sliced or chopped basil plus more for top
- 1/2 teaspoon salt to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Toasted pine nuts
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in orzo and toast for about 3 minutes, stirring continuously, until golden. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Pour in the chicken stock and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the orzo has absorbed most of the liquid and is tender, 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately with the toasted pine nuts and more Parmesan and basil.