Our Favorite Easy Orzo Recipe: A Versatile Side Dish
Our favorite easy orzo recipe is a versatile side dish whose leftovers transform into an excellent lunch. What more can you really ask for from the world? (Or from a diminutive box of pasta, anyway.)
Why we love this orzo recipe
Our favorite easy orzo recipe comes together in a flash from basic ingredients and can round out virtually any meal, from a basic weeknight dinner to a full-fledged fancy dinner party.
Orzo pasta gets boiled in very well salted water and simply tossed with good butter, lemon juice, grated pecorino and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
It works underneath or alongside a wide variety of meals, and we especially love it for soaking up dreamy sauces. Try it with our striped bass or roast chicken (minus the potatoes, though don’t let me stop ya really).
You only need a few, good-quality, basic ingredients to make our favorite easy orzo. You’ll need:
- A pound of orzo pasta
- Fine sea salt
- Good butter
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Pecorino cheese
- Lots of freshly ground black pepper
How to cook orzo
There are just a few simple steps to this recipe. You can see them all in action in the video that accompanies this post. To make our favorite easy orzo recipe, you will:
- Boil some water in a medium pot, with plenty of salt
- Boil a pound of orzo according to the package instructions
- Drain the orzo and return it to the pot
- Stir in lots of good butter and lemon juice until the butter is melted
- Add pecorino cheese and lots of freshly ground black pepper
- Give it a good stir, and serve.
Protips: How to cook orzo
- When we say well salted water, we mean well salted water. Use about two tablespoons of salt to boil a pound of orzo. That way the water will flavor the dish from the inside out. This goes for all dried pasta recipes. It looks like a lot, but it really makes a difference.
- This recipe serves about 3/4 cup of cooked orzo to each of eight people. It’s fine to halve it for a smaller crowd, but it also makes great leftovers.
- You can take the chill off leftovers with a short spin in the microwave and then toss with vegetables and maybe some canned white beans for a great quick lunch. Try halved cherry tomatoes, blanched asparagus cut into bite-sized pieces, and a handful of chopped fresh herbs like basil, parsley and chives.
What to serve with orzo
This side dish is so versatile that there’s almost no limit to what you could serve it with. We especially love:
- Seared scallops with chorizo (a great date-night meal)
- Filet mignon
- Roast chicken
- Reverse-sear pork chops
- Broccolini with gremolata
- Or tuck it into a Buddha bowl
- 1 pound orzo pasta
- 3 tablespoons good salted butter (such as Kerrygold)
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Fill a medium pot halfway with water, add 2 tablespoons salt, and bring to a boil. Add orzo, give it one big stir, and then cook undisturbed to al dente according to package instructions. Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a boil or very brisk simmer without letting the pot overflow.
- Drain pasta, place back into pot, and toss with butter and lemon juice until butter is melted. Stir in pecorino and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and serve.