Orzo is the Italian word for barley, but it’s also the name of a small rice-shaped pasta that’s most often used as an alternative to rice or as an ingredient in soup.
This versatile pasta can be prepared in any way you would cook any other pasta. What to serve with Orzo is numerous.
Orzo adds great texture and flavor to dishes that are already prepared or made with other ingredients, like tomatoes or cheese.
In this article, you’ll learn about some of what to serve with orzo with recipes that include all kinds of great ingredients you love!
1. White Beans and Feta
First on our list of what to serve with orzo are beans and legumes. They pair wonderfully with orzo. Mix cooked white beans (such as cannellini) with orzo, chopped red onion, chopped parsley, and olive oil.
Stir in crumbled feta cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
2. Bacon and Spinach
Spinach and bacon make a great pair. Not only is it delicious, but also healthy. Although bacon does contain sodium and fat, it’s still considered good fat as it’s unsaturated fat which is better for your heart than the saturated fat found in red meat.
Together, they make a perfect pairing of salty and sweet that’s packed with vitamins—making it one side dish worth bringing home from work.
And there you have it: an easy side dish that will really perk up your next meal. (Hey, what can we say? We love orzo!)
3. Shrimp and Fennel
This is one of my favorites on this list of what to serve with orzo. It adds a bit of crunch and allows you to enjoy something savory with a hint of sweetness. This is great served as an appetizer or simply alongside your meal.
Instead of serving it on top of pasta, try serving it over rice. You can also use fresh asparagus instead of fennel if you prefer; it’s all good!
4. Creamy Broccolli Branch
The first thing you need to know about what to serve with orzo is that it’s starchy pasta, and in some cases, it can require a cream sauce. Creamy broccoli branch is one of those sauces.
For example, if you were serving orzo with fish, chicken, or beef and wanted to keep things simple (but still have a side that goes with everything), the creamy broccoli branch could be just what you’re looking for.
Broccoli and cheese come together in an easy cream sauce that is flavorful and perfect over anything from noodles to chicken. As an added bonus, there’s no baking required here—just some stove-top simmering and stirring.
5. Shrimp and Feta
There’s something about shrimp and feta that just works. Maybe it’s because of how salty and creamy both ingredients are or how well they complement each other.
In any case, their flavor combination is phenomenal and will work in just about anything. We think it goes well with orzo because orzo, by nature, is a bit salty too (it’s made from semolina, which is dried wheat), so some sort of salty side dish is always a good idea.
6. Garlic and Lemon Oil
One of our favorites on what to serve with orzo is topped with spicy-sweet garlic and lemon oil, elevating even simple meals into spectacular fare.
To make it, combine two parts of extra virgin olive oil with one part of minced garlic, juice from half a lemon, salt, and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat.
Finally, cook until it starts bubbling, then remove it from heat and allow it to cool before using. Drizzle on top of your orzo and sprinkle with feta cheese just before serving. Yum! Best served at room temperature.
7. Zucchini Ribbons
One of my favorite ways to eat orzo is with zucchini ribbons. Simply use a vegetable peeler and shave ribbons of squash.
In a large saute pan, cook olive oil and garlic until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add squash ribbons and cook over medium-high heat until soft, stirring frequently.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, add freshly torn basil leaves, toss gently, and serve warm or room temperature alongside orzo pasta with diced tomatoes tossed in extra virgin olive oil.
If you want extra flavor in your dish, add goat cheese crumbles and parsley before serving. Don’t forget fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top! Here you have it as what to serve with orzo.
8. Roasted Red Peppers
If you’re looking for what to serve with orzo to add color and crunch to your side dish, roasting up some red peppers is a great way to do it. Roasting brings out their sweetness and makes them wonderfully tender.
This is an easy step that adds flavor, but you can take it a step further by adding those peppers into something else like salsa or hummus—which are great additions to pasta dishes.
If you’re feeling adventurous (and know what flavors will work together), feel free to experiment on your own.
9. Peas and Parmesan
orzo is most commonly used in chicken or veal dishes. Since it’s readily available at most supermarkets and offers a unique texture, it’s a great way to add variety to your everyday meals.
Make sure you use peas, not pasta sauce, when preparing your dish; both taste great with pasta but are extremely different.
Here’s a quick recipe for something simple that will help you get started: Bring some water (to cover) and salt (to taste) to a boil in a small pot over medium-high heat.
Add 1 cup of orzo and stir until the mixture comes back up to a boil. Turn down the heat and cover; simmer until all liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
10. Creamy Mushroom
Orzo pasta is delicious, but it can lack a certain something. A spoonful of cream and some hearty mushrooms are all you need to add some extra flavor and creaminess.
Start by cooking your orzo until just al dente; in a large skillet, sauté chopped garlic in olive oil on medium heat; add sliced mushrooms and cook until browned, stirring often; when cooked through, remove from heat; stir in cream and toss with orzo. It’s that easy!
Finally, top with additional Parmesan cheese or salt/pepper. One cup of cooked pasta will serve 3-4 people, so scale accordingly.
11. Broccolini and Chicken Sausage
The best way to use orzo is as a stand-alone side dish. However, if you’re looking for what to serve with orzo in your kitchen, here are some simple and delicious recipes that pair well with orzo.
The first recipe uses broccolini, which is a leafy green vegetable similar in texture and taste to broccoli. It has a milder flavor than broccoli that pairs perfectly with a salty sausage of any kind.
This recipe uses chicken sausage, but feel free to swap out any flavor you like: pork sausage pairs well with red pepper flakes, steak pairs well with dried basil, and veggie sausage pairs well with fresh thyme.
12. One-Pot Tomato Chickpeas
The best part about cooking with orzo is that it’s a hearty pasta that can withstand strong flavors, making it ideal for casseroles and other one-pot dishes. This tomato chickpeas recipe is a great example of that versatility.
The recipe’s ingredient list may seem long, but once you get into it, you’ll quickly see that there aren’t many parts, each taking just minutes to prepare.
The result is well worth your time—comforting chickpeas combined with tomatoes and fresh herbs come together in just 20 minutes, leaving you plenty of time left over to enjoy your friends.
13. Marinated Artichokes
A popular Mediterranean-style appetizer, marinated artichokes are a healthy side dish alternative to French fries or tater tots.
Start by pulling off any tough outer leaves and trimming them with a knife. If you like, rub lemon juice over its entire surface before dipping it into a mixture of olive oil, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper (to taste).
Once they’ve soaked up enough flavor, bake them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until they’re warm throughout. Warning: they will smell amazing but don’t eat them all in one sitting… because that would be wrong!
Orzo, an Italian rice-shaped pasta, is perfect when you want to make something light but filling simultaneously! Orzo, which is also known as risoni, Rotelli, or rettini, may be small, but it packs a lot of flavor and texture into each bite!
This popular pasta alternative is excellent on its own but would be even better paired with the perfect side dish to give your next meal that little something extra. However, it can be difficult to figure out what to serve with orzo since it has a mild flavor.
Fortunately, plenty of side dishes go well with orzo, and its texture will complement your meal! From sautéed veggies to grilled meats, you’ll find plenty of delicious pairings below!
When you’re thinking about what to serve with orzo, here are some of our favorite options! Make sure to try them all next time you cook up some delicious orzo!