Zucchini and parmesan Orzo is a kid friendly one pot wonder. My kids love this meal. It’s the ultimate comfort food, creamy and decadent like risotto but ready in a quarter of the time and much healthier.
When I say my kids love this recipe I mean LOVE. Hop to and grate all the zucchini and cheese for me without complaint type love. Even our youngest who is deep in the “I hate anything green or that I loved yesterday” phase of toddlerhood loves this recipe.
This simple parmesan orzo is a great way to use up leftover chicken. Or if like us your zucchini plants go crazy and your freezer cant take anymore zucchini chocolate chip bread this recipe is a great solution.
What is Orzo?
Orzo is a short-cut pasta made of durham wheat. It is shaped like a large grain of rice but cooks in half the time. This versatile quick cooking pasta can be used in all kinds of recipes, including pasta dishes, bakes, soups, and salads.
Zucchini and Parmesan Orzo Ingredients
- Lemon zest
- Half and half
- Parmesan cheese
- Fresh thyme leaves
How to make Zucchini and Parmesan Orzo
This orzo is cooked risotto style. Stirring regularly until cooked al dente and then finished with a splash of cream and lots of cheese.
In a large pot or dutch oven melt your salted butter over medium-high heat.
As soon as the butter is melted we add the grated garlic and orzo.
Cook until orzo is golden and garlic is fragrant.
At this point you want to toast the orzo and much like risotto don’t skimp on this step. It’s crucial for the final flavor and texture.
Stir in shredded zucchini, lemon zest, salt and pepper until well combined. Cook 2-3 minutes until the zucchini is tender.
We want the zucchini to melt into the orzo so even the pickiest of kids don’t notice it anymore.
Slowly pour in the broth while stirring the orzo mixture to keep from sticking.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring regularly, until the orzo is al dente and the liquid is reduced. Roughly 10 minutes.
Stir in the half and half until well combined and creamy.
Add diced chicken and let cook until chicken is heated through.
Finish with parmesan, and fresh thyme.
Serve immediately with more grated parmesan and cracked pepper.
If you can’t serve immediately you will need to add more liquid as it sits.
Tips for cooking Zucchini Orzo
Should I rinse Orzo?
You should only rinse orzo if you are baking it or serving it cold. No rinsing is required for this Zucchini Parmesan Orzo.
How long should Orzo cook?
Orzo should cook for about 10 minutes or until it has an al dente firm chewy texture. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent the orzo from sticking together.
What could substitute orzo in this recipe?
Acini de pepe, pearl barley, or Israeli pearl couscous will work in a pinch but it may impact the cook time.