Squash Zucchini Parmesan Orzo
on May 18, 2023
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Simmered in vegetable broth, this Parmesan orzo turns out beautifully creamy and rich. I stir in peas and a sheet pan roasted yellow squash and zucchini to make this easy vegetarian orzo pasta recipe. You can serve it as a side dish or a vegetarian main dish.
You can also try this Lemon Kale Orzo recipe.
Table of Contents
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
With orzo you get pasta and rice in a single ingredient. Even though orzo officially lands in the pasta category, because of its shape you get the best of both worlds.
This dish is all about the veggies. Peas along with diced zucchini and squash are the perfect size to go with orzo, so you have lots of vegetables in each bite.
You can swap out roasted squash and zucchini for another combination of veggie. This recipe is great as is, but you can switch them out for roasted cherry tomatoes or sautéed mushrooms. Or you can change it up seasonally. For instance, try roasted butternut squash in the fall. And no matter the time of year, you can stir in baby spinach.
What is Orzo?
Shaped like rice, this tiny pasta can be cooked in a pot of salted water like any type of pasta or in broth like you would for rice. When you simmer it in broth, orzo turns creamy without a sauce, which is how I do it when I’m planning to serve it warm. Orzo is also fantastic for pasta salads, and for that, I simmer it in water. You also can add orzo to soup.
Orzo is pastina, which in Italian means “little pasta.” Even though it looks like rice, orzo is technically pasta. You can find varieties made with whole-wheat flour, which is what I like for this recipe because it adds a little more to the taste and bite.
This is what you need:
- Orzo: You can use plain orzo, whole-wheat orzo or tri-color orzo for this roasted squash and zucchini recipe.
- Yellow squash & zucchini: It is so easy to roast these veggies. You just toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper on a pan and put them in a 400-degree F oven.
- Peas: You can use fresh or frozen peas. The heat from the orzo will quickly thaw them.
- Parmesan: This Italian hard cow’s milk cheese makes the orzo creamy as well as cooking it using broth and the rice method.
- Onions: Sautéing chopped onions is always a good starting point for the base of any dish.
- Garlic: This roasted squash zucchini recipe has 2 minced garlic cloves.
- Vegetable broth: Use low-sodium broth, so you can control the amount of seasonings. If you don’t need the recipe to be vegetarian, you can substitute with chicken broth.
- Chives are fresh herbs that add something light and oniony.
- Olive oil: For the best flavor, use extra-virgin olive oil.
- Salt & pepper season both the roasted vegetables and the orzo.
How To Make Squash Zucchini Parmesan Orzo
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
1. Toss the zucchini and squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. You can do this right on the sheet pan. Then spread them into a single layer.
2. Roast the squash and zucchini until they are lightly browned, about 25-30 minutes.
3. Sauté the onions in olive oil over medium high heat on the stove until they start to soften. This will take 4-5 minutes.
4. Add the minced garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for a minute until fragrant.
5. Stir the orzo into the onions.
6. Pour in the vegetable broth. Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat to let it simmer. Wait 8-10 minutes for the orzo to absorb most of the liquid and the grains to be al dente. Then take the pan off the heat.
7. Add the peas and Parmesan cheese. Frozen peas will quickly thaw and warm up from the heat of the orzo.
8. Fold in the roasted squash and zucchini and minced chives.
I love this Parmesan orzo pasta for a vegetarian main dish. You can serve it with this Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette or an Italian Chopped Salad. They are both two of my go-to salads for pasta dishes.
Leftovers & Storage
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Warm them in the microwave. Or you can eat them cold like an orzo salad and add arugula or other greens.
More Orzo Recipes
Did you make this orzo recipe? Please leave a rating and comment below. Thanks!
Squash Zucchini Parmesan Orzo Recipe
- For squash & zucchini
- 2 medium zucchini diced
- 2 medium yellow squash diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- For orzo
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 small white onion roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup orzo
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup peas fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- Toss the zucchini and squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper on a sheet pan. Spread into a single layer. Roast for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden at the edges.
- In a large sauté pan or skillet, warm the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onions until they start to soften, about 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Stir in the orzo, coating in the sautéed onions and toasting for 1 minute.
- Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the orzo has absorbed most of the broth and it is al dente.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the peas and Parmesan. If you are using frozen peas, they will quickly thaw and warm up.
- Fold in the roasted squash and zucchini and chives.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe originally published June 19, 2017. Updated: May 18, 2023.