This easy tomato orzo is a deliciously creamy pasta dish that you can whip up in just 25 minutes. It’s all made in one pot with pantry ingredients for the perfect fuss-free weeknight treat.
There's something special about a recipe that's both effortlessly simple and heartwarmingly delicious. And that’s exactly what I have here with this creamy tomato orzo.
It's the kind of dish that's perfect for those days when you need a little comfort food without a lot of fuss.
This recipe is a perfect example of how a few pantry staples can come together to create something magical.
The tomato orzo is delicious and velvety, and it tastes like something special even though it’s ready in under half an hour.
Why you’ll love this tomato orzo
- Super easy to make: This recipe is incredibly straightforward and requires minimal prep.
- Pantry-friendly ingredients: Made mostly with items you likely already have in your pantry, it's convenient and cost-effective.
- Easily customizable: You can effortlessly adapt it by adding extra veggies or protein such as chickpeas or tofu.
What is orzo?
Orzo might look like rice at first glance, but in fact, it's a delightful little pasta. It’s made from the same durum wheat semolina as traditional pasta, yet its tiny, grain-like shape sets it apart.
What makes orzo stand out is how incredibly flexible it is in the kitchen. It's a quick-cooking wonder, perfect for those nights when you want something satisfying without spending hours over the stove.
When cooked al dente, it has a lovely chewy texture that's just irresistible.
Ingredients and substitutions
Shallot — Shallots add a subtle, slightly sweet flavor. If unavailable, red onion is a good alternative, though it's a bit stronger.
Garlic — Fresh garlic is ideal for the best flavor. If you're in a pinch, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder can replace each clove.
Tomato paste — This deepens the flavor, but if you don't have it, you can increase the crushed tomatoes slightly, though the sauce might be less rich.
Crushed tomatoes — These provide the base of your sauce. Diced tomatoes can work, too; they'll just offer a chunkier texture.
Orzo — You can use regular or wholewheat orzo — just make sure you pay attention to the cooking times indicated on the package.
Baby spinach — I love baby spinach in this recipe because it wilts nicely. You can also use kale or Swiss chard; just remember they take a bit longer to cook down.
How to make creamy tomato orzo
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened and translucent.
Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
Mix in the tomato paste with the shallot and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes to deepen the flavors.
Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and let it cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the orzo is tender. Make sure you check occasionally and stir to prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the skillet.
Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve immediately.
Leftovers and storage
- Cool any leftovers to room temperature before transferring them to an airtight container. The tomato orzo will keep well in the fridge for up to three days.
- Reheat in a saucepan over low heat, adding a splash of water or vegetable stock to loosen the sauce.
- I don’t recommend freezing this dish because the orzo will become mushy when thawed.
Recipe notes and tips
- Mix in other vegetables like diced zucchini, mushrooms, or red bell peppers for extra nutrition and color.
- Boost the protein content by adding cooked lentils, tofu, or tempeh to the orzo.
- Sprinkle nutritional yeast over the finished dish for a cheesy flavor without the dairy.
- Serve this dish with a glass of crisp white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.
- Top with freshly chopped basil or parsley to elevate the flavors and add a pop of color.
- For a bit of heat, include a dash of red pepper flakes or a spoonful of harissa paste.
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