While pasta makes for great main courses, there are a ton of different and great soup, salad, and side dish applications.  In this recipe video, I’m going to show you how to make an Orzo Pasta with Summer Vegetables that certainly could be a main, but that I generally use for either a hot side dish, or a cold pasta salad.  Orzo is a small, rice shaped pasta, that is perfect for soups and pasta salads…and of course side dishes.  The shape tends to make it very easy cook al dente, and the high amount of surface area allows it to pick up a lot of flavor from other ingredients.  For this recipe, I use some diced zucchini, red bell pepper, and sundried tomato, for the vegetable components, and sauté those off with a bit of garlic and shallot.  Finish it with some finely chopped basil or parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice, and you’ve got a very flavorful, light, and colorful orzo side dish, that works great with fish, chicken, or pork.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Recipe Overview and Keys to Success

For the best Orzo with Summer Vegetables just make sure to focus on these few things:

  • Keep the vegetables al dente, along with the orzo, so everything has some texture and bite do it.  If either are too soft, it just won’t be as interesting.
  • I really like to use a non-stick pan (which I don’t often use) for this dish, to prevent the orzo from sticking while you saute everything together
  • To get the pasta right, you need to use a fair amount of olive oil, and you need to “dry” it by sauting the orzo for at least a few minutes in the pan with the vegetables.  That time will cause the remaining water to evaporate, and the olive oil will keep the cooked orzo from clumping together
  • Taste and season as you go!!
  • Finally, add the herbs and the lemon juice at the last second…neither benefit from extra time on the heat

Ingredients for Orzo with Vegetables (for 2)

  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • 1/4 cup of diced zucchini
  • 1/4 cup of diced red bell pepper
  • 1 large shallot diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • Couple tablespoons of sundried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • Lemon (for the juice)
  • Salt & pepper

Orzo Pasta

  • Bring a pot of water to the boil and add salt
  • Add the orzo pasta, stir every few minutes until it's al dente (start checking the pasta for doneness a couple minutes before the package's suggested time)
  • Bring a non-stick sauté pan up to temperature over medium heat
  • Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and the zucchini, red bell pepper, shallot and garlic – season with salt and pepper
  • After a few minutes, add the sundried tomatoes, and toss to combine; if needed you can turn  the heat down to low and wait for the pasta to finish cooking (don’t overcook the vegetables)
  • Once cooked to al dente, drain the orzo well, and add to the vegetables
  • Season with salt and pepper, and toss everything to combine
  • Add a few more glugs of olive oil, and continue to cook off for a few minutes over high heat until the water from the orzo has evaporated
  • Turn the heat all the way down, add the basil and the juice of about a 1/3 of a the lemon; again toss to combine
  • Taste the orzo, and adjust the seasoning if needed

You’re good to go…so serve it up.