Creamy Orzo: A Main Dish or Side Both Adults and Kids Will Enjoy!

This rice shaped pasta is a nice alternative to the usual penne, ziti or spaghetti.

Epic fail. That perfectly sums up my risotto making attempts. 

Not once, but twice it came out, well, terrible.  Maybe I just don’t have the patience for it.

My friend, Gay, once told me “Risotto is a labor of love”.  She’s exactly right. It takes a lot of time and patience to make, both of which I’m short on by the end of a long workday. 

So for a busy weeknight meal it’s just not feasible to get it properly cooked and on the dinner table.   

Fear not, there are other options!  Orzo, a rice shaped pasta, is a great “risotto shortcut”.  Mix it with the right ingredients and you have a creamy and delicious side dish or a great main dish. This orzo recipe is vegetarian friendly, too. 

The dish comes together quickly, so it’s great for a weeknight dinner.  Pair it with a mixed green salad.  You could use asparagus or broccoli in place of the peas or you could add some pancetta or chicken if you want to add a little protein.

It’s one of those clean out your veggie drawer dishes.  Shrimp or scallops would be a great add-in, too or it would go perfect alongside a grilled piece of salmon.  The possibilities are endless!


Creamy Orzo

Source: Giada De Laurentiis Everyday Pasta


1 pound orzo (rice-shaped pasta)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, juices drained

1 1/4 cups whipping cream

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Bring a heavy large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook until they are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cream and peas. Add the orzo and toss to coat. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Add the Parmesan to the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Stir the pasta mixture until the sauce coats the pasta thickly, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to maintain a creamy consistency. Season the orzo with salt and pepper, and serve.


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