Easy Orzo Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan

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Easy Orzo Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan– the perfect combination of seasoned and roasted vegetables in a light lemon dressing with a sprinkle of fresh basil and parmigiano shavings. You will love this super flavorful orzo pasta recipe! Serve warm or cold.

This orzo pasta pairs well with homemade focaccia bread and baked cod.

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This delicious meal is perfect for busy weeknights as a vegetarian main dish or a simple side dish to your favorite meat or fish recipe.

Easy Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

This meal came to life out of leftover marinated roasted vegetables! This a great way to use leftovers and create the perfect side dish for your next meal. If you don’t have leftover veggies, this recipe gives all the details for roasting the vegetables in a tasty marinade that adds flavor to the overall dish.

If you need a delicious meal on your dinner table with simple ingredients, this one is for you! You will love all the different ways you can make it (see variations!).

big bowl of orzo pasta with roasted vegetables with a fork ready to eat. Flowers in the background.

Simple Ingredients

This simple recipe is packed with fresh ingredients that you can find at your local store—one of those healthy recipes you will make on repeat.

ingredient shot

Roasted Vegetables (*see notes for using leftover grilled or sauteed vegetables) 

  • Zucchini  
  • Orange bell pepper
  • Yellow bell pepper
  • Onion
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar 
  • Rosemary 
  • Parsley 
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Orzo 

  • 1/2 pound orzo or small-shaped pasta

Dressing

  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Lemon zest 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Extras

  • Grilled Olives (you can use any olives)
  • Shaved parmigiano cheese (parmesan cheese)
  • Fresh basil
  • Pine nuts (optional)

See the recipe card for quantities.

dry orzo pasta in a bowl.

What is Orzo Pasta?

Orzo pasta is a type of pasta that is shaped like tiny grains of rice. It is often referred to as “rice-shaped pasta” for this reason.

Orzo is made from wheat semolina flour and is commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, particularly in salads, soups, and side dishes. It can also be used as a substitute for rice.

Orzo is usually boiled like other types of pasta and can be served warm or cold. It is a versatile ingredient that can be combined with a wide range of flavors and ingredients to create various dishes.

You can also learn the difference between orzo and risotto in this post!

Different Ways to Cook Orzo

There are several ways to cook orzo pasta. Here are some popular methods:

  1. Boiling: The most common way to cook orzo is to boil it in salted water(or chicken stock) for 8-10 minutes or until tender but still slightly firm (al dente). Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. You can even make pressure cooker orzo pasta.
  2. Toasting: To add a nutty flavor to the orzo, toast it until golden brown in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes before boiling it. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
  3. Risotto-style: Orzo can be cooked like risotto by adding hot broth or stock to the pan in stages and stirring until it is absorbed before adding more liquid. This method creates a creamy, flavorful dish.
  4. Salad: Orzo can be cooked and then chilled to use in cold pasta salads. Toss the cooked orzo with vegetables, herbs, and a simple dressing for a refreshing and easy side dish.

You will also love Creamy Lemon Orzo and Spinach and Sun dried Tomato and Shrimp recipes.

close up final orzo pasta dish.

How to Make Easy Orzo Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan (Step-by-Step Photos)

You will love the delicious flavors of this easy orzo with roasted vegetables. This recipe works great for leftover roasted or sauteed vegetables. See the recipe card for roasting or sauteing instructions if you aren’t using previously cooked vegetables.

How to make Easy Orzo Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan- homemade dressing for the orzo pasta.

Make dressing. In a small jar with a lid, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Shake until well combined. Alternatively, you can combine them in a small bowl with a whisk. Set aside.

How to make Easy Orzo Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan- vegetables roasted and set aside in a glass bowl ready to add to your salad.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, toss the cut bell peppers, onion, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs, salt, and pepper and place on a large sheet pan. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.

How to make Easy Orzo Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan- mixing all the ingredients together with the cooked pasta.

Cook orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes (according to package directions), until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta. Toss to combine.

easy orzo pasta with roasted veggies in a large serving bowl. Thick slices of Parmesan cheese on top. Basil to garish.

Pour the dressing over the pasta and vegetables. Discard the chunks of garlic. Toss to combine.
Let cool to room temperature (about 15 minutes), then add the shaved parmigiano (parmesan),  fresh basil, grilled olives, and pine nuts (if using). Toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or cold. Enjoy!

close up of easy orzo pasta with roasted veggies. Thick slices of Parmesan cheese on top. Basil to garish.

Substitutions

You can use whole wheat orzo or gluten-free orzo to meet certain dietary restrictions.

Variations

The best part about this orzo pasta with roasted vegetables and parmesan recipe is you can customize it to whatever you have on hand. Here are some variations to the traditional orzo pasta salad recipe:

  1. Mediterranean Orzo Salad: Add diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, red bell peppers, and a simple lemon vinaigrette to the cooked orzo for a flavorful Mediterranean twist. Add red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.
  2. Caprese Orzo Salad: Mix diced fresh mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and a balsamic vinaigrette with the cooked orzo for a classic caprese salad flavor.
  3. Greek Orzo Salad: Add diced red onion, bell pepper, cucumber, feta cheese, and a Greek vinaigrette to the cooked orzo for a zesty Greek salad.
  4. Orzo with Pesto and Roasted or Sauteed Vegetables: Mix cooked orzo with roasted vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers, and toss with a homemade pesto sauce.

These are just a few variations of the orzo pasta salad recipe. Feel free to experiment with different ingredients to create your own unique dish.

How to store leftover Orzo

Leftover orzo with roasted vegetables can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Enjoy this dish cold as leftovers. Stir the salad before serving, as the dressing may settle at the bottom.

Top tips

Here are some top tips to making orzo with roasted vegetables:

  • Fresh vegetables: The best vegetables to roast with orzo hold their shape and texture well after roasting, such as eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Cut them into bite-sized pieces for even roasting.
  • Season the vegetables before roasting to enhance their natural flavors.
  • Roast the vegetables: Arrange the seasoned vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet and toss them halfway through cooking to ensure even browning.
  • Salt the water. Don’t be shy about adding salt to the water when boiling the pasta! It does make a difference in the flavor. Don’t overcook the pasta.
  • Combine the orzo and vegetables: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked orzo with the roasted vegetables, tossing gently to combine. Add seasonings or fresh herbs, such as basil or parsley, to taste.
  • Serve warm, room temperature, or cold: Orzo with roasted vegetables can be served warm or cold. If serving cold, chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.

Following these tips, you can make a delicious and satisfying orzo dish with roasted vegetables that is perfect for any occasion.

big bowl of orzo pasta with roasted vegetables with a fork ready to eat. Flowers in the background.

FAQs

Can I use different types of vegetables in orzo pasta salad?

Yes, you can use a variety of vegetables in orzo pasta salad, such as cucumbers, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, or asparagus. Just make sure they are cut into bite-sized pieces and roasted or cooked to your liking.

Can I make orzo pasta salad ahead of time?

Yes, orzo pasta salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until ready to serve. Adjusting the seasoning or adding the dressing before serving may be necessary.

Can I add protein to orzo pasta salad?

Yes, you can add protein to orzo pasta salad, such as grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu. You can also add beans or chickpeas for a vegetarian option.

Should I rinse orzo pasta for pasta salad?

No! Do not rinse the orzo it will strip the starches and not absorb the dressing and flavors as well. Toss with the roasted vegetables and dressing, then cool slightly before adding parmesan cheese.

More Recipes For You

What to Serve with Easy Orzo Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan

These are my favorite dishes to serve with orzo and roasted vegetable recipes:

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Easy Orzo Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan

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5 from 6 reviews

Easy Orzo Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan– the perfect combination of seasoned and roasted vegetables in a light lemon dressing with a sprinkle of fresh basil and parmigiano shavings. You will love this super flavorful orzo pasta recipe! Serve warm or cold.

  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

Roasted Vegetables (*see notes for using leftover grilled or sauteed vegetables) 

  • 1 large (or 2 small zucchini), diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Orzo 

  • 1/2 pound orzo or small-shaped pasta

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Add-Ins 

  • 1/4 cup Grilled Olives, sliced (or other olives of choice)
  • 1 cup shaved parmigiano (parmesan cheese)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, torn by hand
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss the cut bell peppers, onion, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs, salt, and pepper and place on a large sheet pan. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.
  3. Make dressing. In a small jar with a lid, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Shake until well combined. Alternatively, you can combine them in a small bowl with a whisk. Set aside. 
  4. Cook orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes (according to package directions), until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta. Toss to combine
  5. Pour the dressing over the pasta and vegetables. Discard the chunks of garlic. Toss to combine.
  6. Let cool to room temperature (about 15 minutes), then add the shaved parmigiano (parmesan),  fresh basil, grilled olives, and pine nuts (if using). Toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or cold. Enjoy!

Notes

Using leftover veggies: You can use leftover grilled or sauteed veggies and skip steps 1-3. You will need 2 cups of cooked, diced veggies. 

How to sautee vegetables in a pan:

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.

  • Add the onions to the pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until they become translucent.

  • Add the peppers to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Add the sliced zucchini to the pan and cook for another 5-6 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and slightly browned.

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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11 Comments

  1. Ok this salad everyone should have. It’s delicious. I make it all the time. It’s quick and travels well 👍👍👍👍👍 🩷






  2. Thankfully I had a small amount in my bowl for my IG post because my family snagged the rest! It was so good! My 16 yr old son prepped it and added a bit extra on the seasoning (we like layers of flavor) and I used some leftover orzo from a previous meal. We paired it with some Italian seasoned chicken breast for a delicious meal (I just ate it vegetarian style). Definitely in my rotation now!






  3. Had it 2 times in 1,5 weeks: one time as a hot main dish, one time with rucola as a salad for BBQ. Molto bene! ❤






  4. Super easy pasta dish! I made this to serve cold at my Nonna’s bbq and it was all almost gone by the end of the night. Will definitely make again!