Parmesan orzo and peas is an easy side dish to pair with your favorite protein for a complete meal. Orzo and sweet peas are coated in a light parmesan sauce with onions and garlic. Made in just twenty minutes in a single pan.
Creamy orzo and sweet peas are the perfect pairing in this easy side dish recipe. A creamy and light parmesan sauce is flavored with onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Chicken broth is used to cook the orzo, which adds tons of flavor without a long list of extra ingredients.
Pair this side dish with your favorite protein, like baked parmesan crusted chicken tenders. Or, toss in some diced ham for a complete meal. Orzo and peas also makes a great spring side dish for Easter dinner.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Pasta - Any type of dried pasta can be used in this recipe. Think about the size of your other ingredients (peas and diced onions) and choose your pasta accordingly. For this recipe, any small salad pasta would be a good choice.
- Chicken broth can be substituted with vegetable broth or beef broth to add a different flavor.
- Italian seasoning - Enhances the flavor of your pasta. Italian seasoning can be homemade or a store bought blend.
- Frozen peas - I prefer the fresh texture of frozen peas compared to canned peas. Plus, frozen peas are already par-cooked and ready to toss in to your cooked pasta. However, drained, canned peas can work as a substitute if needed.
- Unsalted butter - Can be substituted with salted butter if needed (cut the amount of salt listed in half).
- Onion and garlic - Enhances the flavor of your pasta. I don't recommend omitting either ingredient.
- Parmesan cheese - Adds salty flavor and creaminess to your pasta. Freshly grated cheese from a block is best. Store bought, pre-grated cheeses (like in a green canister) are coated in anti-clumping powders that prevent cheese from melting evenly, and can add a grainy texture.
Is orzo a rice or pasta?
Orzo is a pasta. However, it is shaped like rice, which can cause some confusion.
Liquid and pasta proportions
The most important part about this recipe is measuring your pasta and liquid ingredients exactly.
Because your pasta is cooked in the same pan as the rest of your ingredients, it is important to use the exact amount of liquid needed to cook that pasta.
If too much liquid is added, you'll be left with a runny sauce. If too little liquid is added, your pasta and other ingredients will get dry, stick to the bottom of the pan, and potentially burn.
I have written this recipe with exactly enough liquid to cook the pasta. There should be just enough liquid left over to create a creamy sauce with the starch released from the pasta.
What to serve with orzo and peas
Try serving your orzo and peas alongside grilled or pan-fried chicken breasts, honey-baked ham, meatloaf, rotisserie chicken, or steak. More ideas:
- Parmesan crusted chicken tenders
- Bacon and spinach stuffed chicken
- Baked chicken drumsticks
- Pan-seared ribeye with garlic butter
- Skillet flank steak with garlic butter
Parmesan Orzo and Peas
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cups orzo, dry
- 3 cups chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ½ cups frozen peas, thawed
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add uncooked orzo, chicken broth, salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and orzo is al dente (check your pasta's package directions for exact cooking times).
- Over low heat, add peas and Parmesan cheese. Stir for about a minute, or until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.
- Chicken broth can be substituted with vegetable or beef broth.
- It is important to accurately measure your pasta and broth, as the entire dish is cooked in a single pot. Most of the liquid should be absorbed by the pasta as it cooks.
- Your pasta will continue to absorb liquid as it stands - if your sauce looks runny, allow to set for 5 minutes.
- Dish is best served immediately, as leftovers will be much less creamy than when served fresh.