This Orzo with Tomatoes is a quick and easy pasta recipe that’s quite literally bursting with flavor, made all in one pot. It has sautéd tomatoes that release their delicious juices, and plenty of garlic and onion, topped with fresh basil. It has a silky creamy texture without using any cream.
This one pot orzo dish has some classic ingredients you either should have on hand or should be able to find in a store easily! It's perfect to make any time of year because you're sautéing the tomatoes so they don't have to be perfectly in season, BUT, those late summer tomatoes do have an unmatched flavor.
- Orzo: regular or whole wheat are both perfectly fine!
- Tomatoes: any little tomato variety works great here - cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, sungold tomatoes, etc.
- Onion: half of a large yellow onion, or a whole small yellow onion – this infuses so much flavor into the dish.
- Garlic: four cloves of sliced garlic also adds so much flavor. I prefer the slices so you get a pop of flavor but if you prefer chopped that’s also fine.
- Butter: butter is used twice in this recipe – once for sautéing the onion, and again to toast the orzo. You could use olive oil instead, but I prefer the butter flavor.
- Broth & water: a mixture of vegetable broth (or vegetable stock) and water infuses the recipe with even more flavor.
- Parmesan cheese: added at the end, makes everything a little creamier. Ideally grate it yourself from a block of yourself so it melts seamlessly. Pre-grated can have preservatives and ingredients that make it clump together.
- Basil: fresh basil on top at the end adds the perfect hint of freshness.
If you don’t have or can’t find any of the ingredients listed above, check out the below alternatives.
- Onion: red onion would be fine but not ideal.
- Butter: instead of butter you can use olive oil
- Broth: you can use chicken broth / chicken stock instead of veggie broth. You can also use either all broth or all water.
- Cheese: pecorino romano cheese is a great alternative.
- Basil: instead of basil, fresh oregano would be great.
Step by step instructions
This orzo with tomatoes comes together pretty easily and is great for a vegetarian weeknight dinner. Check out the steps to make it below (full recipe listed in the recipe card at the bottom of this post).
1. Cook the onion. In a large skillet or heavy bottomed pot (such as a dutch oven), melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté for 5 minutes until soft.
2. Add the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper to the skillet and sauté until they just slightly soften and release their juices - 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the garlic. Add the garlic right in and cook until the garlic is very fragrant and lightly sautéd – an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove the tomato mixture from the skillet and set aside.
4. Toast the orzo. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into the skillet. Once melted, add the orzo and toast for 5 minutes until gently golden.
5. Add the liquid and cook the orzo. Add the broth and water, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer on medium-low heat. Cook on a steady simmer for 8-10 minutes until al dente and 90% of the water is absorbed.
6. Finish the dish. Finish the dish by mixing the tomato mixture back in along with the parmesan and fresh basil. Serve warm!
Tips and tricks
Check out the below tips and tricks for this orzo with tomatoes recipe to help make sure you nail it, along with some thoughts on customizations.
- Stir the orzo frequently as it simmers and cooks, otherwise it may stick to the bottom of the skillet.
- Freshly grate your parmesan cheese – this will help make sure it doesn’t clump up when added to the dish. Pre-grated cheeses tend to have flours and other additives that can cause clumping.
- For a pretty presentation, reserve a little of the tomato mixture and serve with it spooned on top of the orzo.
- Add some veggies in if you’d like! Zucchini, broccoli, or asparagus would be great. You could sauté them with the onions or roast them separately and add in once the orzo is done cooking.
- To make this greek-inspired orzo, use tangy feta and oregano instead of parmesan and basil.
- Make it a little spicy by adding some red pepper flakes (aka chilli flakes) or chopped calabrian chilis.
How to serve
- While this tomato orzo dish is vegetarian, if you'd like to add some meat I'd recommend some grilled chicken or chicken cutlets, or shrimp!
- Side dishes that would go great with this orzo recipe are – garlic bread, roasted or grilled vegetables, zucchini boats with parmesan and panko, or a simple salad with arugula / lemon juice / parmesan / extra virgin olive oil.
Storage and reheating
- To store this orzo with tomatoes, allow it to come to room temperature and transfer to an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- To reheat, warm in the microwave in 1 minute increments, stirring between each, until warmed through.
While it has the shape of rice, orzo is actually a type of pasta typically made with semolina flour. More on all of the types of pasta here.
No, orzo is not gluten free as it is made with flour.
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One Pot Orzo with Tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter separated
- ½ yellow onion diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 2 cups orzo
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoon fresh basil
- In a large skillet or heavy bottomed pot (such as a dutch oven), melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté for 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper to the skillet and sauté until they just slightly soften and release their juices - 3-4 minutes.
- Add the garlic right in and cook until the garlic is very fragrant and lightly sautéd – an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove the tomato mixture from the skillet and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into the skillet. Once melted, add the orzo and toast for 5 minutes until gently golden.
- Add the broth and water, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer on medium-low heat. Cook on a steady simmer for 8-10 minutes until al dente and 90% of the water is absorbed.
- Finish the dish by mixing the tomato mixture back in along with the parmesan and fresh basil. Serve warm!