Rule #309: Sometimes, the side dish becomes the star of the show.
This is one of our all-time solid GOLD side dishes for a few reasons: it’s delicious, the ingredients have a long shelf-life, and it’s easy peasy to whip together. This Easy Parmesan Orzo Pasta can easily overshadow any main dish with its delightful bits of salty Parmesan paired with perfectly textured orzo. It’s got just enough taste to stand on its own without working against the flavors of whatever main dish you’re serving.
Orzo is the most forgiving of all the pastas, in my humble little opinion. It cooks like a pasta, but can easily be manipulated into behaving like rice. It’s cut to the shape of a grain of rice, but actually, the word “orzo” means barley back in Italy. The common Italian word for this kind of pasta is “risoni”. There’s your fun linguistic lesson of the day!
So, let’s make us some Easy Parmesan Orzo Pasta, shall we? First, heat 2 tbs. unsalted butter in a medium stock pot or skillet.
Then, add in 1 cup of uncooked orzo pasta. Stir to coat with the butter, then sauté for until pasta starts to turn a brownish color and gets toasty (about 3 minutes).
Next, add in 2 1/2 cups chicken stock (you can definitely sub veggie stock if you’d prefer). Give it all a stir, partially cover, and bring it to a boil. Once it’s at a good boil, turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until pasta is cooked through (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Once our pasta is cooked, add in 1/4 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, and 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper.
Finally, toss in some fresh basil and stir everything to combine.
And that’s all she wrote, folks.
We like to serve our Easy Parmesan Orzo Pasta as side dish alongside: Winey Lemon Chicken | Easy Pork Chops in the Slow Cooker | Savory Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin | Jalapeño Popper Chicken | Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Bake | Chicken in Wine Sauce | Chicken Marsala | Cauliflower Parmesan
Easy Parmesan Orzo Pasta
2 tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
2½ cups unsalted chicken stock
¼ cup (1 oz.) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbs. fresh basil, chopped
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add orzo, stir, and cook until orzo is slightly toasted (about 3 minutes). Stir in stock, cover, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir, and partially cover. Simmer until liquid is absorbed and orzo is cooked through (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in Parmesan cheese, basil, Kosher salt, and pepper.