Creamy Pesto Orzo with Tomatoes is an easy, one-pot pasta dish that combines tender orzo, fresh basil pesto, juicy tomatoes and fresh mozzarella! The best part? It can be whipped up in just 25 minutes!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
I have been on a serious orzo rampage lately. There is something about that small, chewy pasta that I am currently addicted to! After making my own homemade pesto sauce (free of pine nuts, by the way), I decided I should toss it with some orzo, fresh tomatoes and pearl mozzarella for a little pesto orzo action!
This is seriously so easy to make. And you don't have to go all out and make homemade pesto, you can totally use a store-bought pesto!
Plus, it is a great way to enjoy summertime cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. Creamy pesto orzo with tomatoes can be served as a complete meal on its own, or it is a great side dish to go along with any of your favorite proteins!
My creamy pesto orzo recipe uses simple ingredients that you might already have on hand! Here's what you'll need:
- Orzo Pasta: Orzo is a small pasta shape that resembles the shape of rice. It is relatively easy to find in the pasta aisle of most grocery stores! If you don't have orzo on hand, use any small pasta shape like ditalini or macaroni elbows.
- Chicken Stock: I like to cook the pasta in chicken stock, but to keep this pesto orzo vegetarian, use vegetable stock or water with some salt!
- Pesto: I used my homemade basil pesto, but you can use your favorite brand jar of pesto in a pinch!
- Heavy Cream: A bit of heavy cream makes this orzo dish perfectly creamy! You can also use half & half, but I wouldn't use milk.
- Grated Parmesan: Freshly grated parmesan cheese will melt seamlessly into the sauce, but you can use pre-grated parmesan if that is what you have on hand!
- Salt & Pepper: To taste.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Slice the cherry tomatoes in half! I recommend using juicy cherry tomatoes here for the burst of flavor that they offer. Grape tomatoes work too!
- Pearl Mozzarella: Some mini mozzarella pearls add texture and flavor.
How to Make Creamy Pesto Orzo
- Toast the Orzo: Add a glug of extra virgin olive oil to a large stock pot or dutch oven. Add the dry orzo to the pot. Let toast on medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add Liquid: Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth over the top and bring to a simmer until orzo has soaked up most of the liquid. At this point the orzo will be al dente. Make sure to stir frequently to prevent the orzo from sticking.
- Add Pesto: Add the pesto to the orzo and stir well. Let cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add Heavy Cream & Parm: Add the heavy cream and the grated parmesan. Stir well and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Season: Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add Mozzarella and Tomatoes: Turn off the heat and transfer to a serving bowl or keep in the pot if serving from there. Add in the halved tomatoes and pearl mozzarella and toss to combine. Serve immediately with more parmesan for serving and a squeeze of lemon if desired! You can also top it off with fresh basil leaves if you have any on hand. Enjoy!
Tips for Success
- Orzo soaks up a lot of liquid! Keep in mind that the orzo is going to double or triple in size, so all of that liquid will be absorbed. If you want it saucier, add another splash of broth or cream!
- Add more veggies! This is a basic pasta recipe that is super versatile. Veggies like spinach, zucchini, broccoli, green beans or asparagus would each be a great addition.
- Add protein! Creamy pesto orzo with tomatoes is the perfect side dish to all your favorite grilled proteins like chicken or salmon. Or eat it as a main meal!
- Add a squeeze of lemon! Especially if you are using jarred pest sauce, I would add a squeeze of lemon juice right at the end and give it a good stir to balance the flavors and brighten it up. Since I used my own pesto sauce, it already had some lemon in it and didn't need any extra!
Frequently Asked Questions
Small pasta shapes like pastina, ditalini, acini di pepe, or even simple macaroni elbows can be used in place of orzo in this recipe!
This pesto orzo recipe is meant to be eaten warm. If you want to turn this into an orzo pesto salad, I recommend taking the cooked orzo and placing it in a large bowl. Then mix with cold or room temperature pesto sauce, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and skip the cream and parmesan!
Store any leftover creamy pesto orzo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days! To reheat, simply pop it in the microwave until heated through.
More Recipes to Try
Creamy Pesto Orzo with Tomatoes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups orzo or one pound/package
- 4 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water with a generous pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup pesto jar or homemade. If using jarred, add 2-3 tablespoons.
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes halved
- 6 oz pearl mozzarella
- Add a glug of olive oil (about 1 tbsp) to a large stock pot or dutch oven. Add the dry orzo to the pot. Let toast on medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth over top and bring to a simmer until orzo has soaked up most of the liquid, stirring frequently to prevent orzo from sticking.
- Add pesto and stir well, let cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add heavy cream and grated parmesan, stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn off heat, transfer to serving bowl or keep the orzo in the pot if serving from there. Then, add tomatoes and mozzarella before serving and toss to combine. Serve immediately with more parmesan for topping, and a squeeze of lemon if desired!