Creamy Zucchini Orzotto

Creamy Zucchini Orzotto, a simple orzo pasta dish cooked like risotto until soft and creamy with seasonal zucchini and fresh basil. Perfect for summer!

a black bowl with zucchini orzotto pasta with a gold fork on a white table

You like orzo, but have you tried “orzotto”? It’s orzo pasta cooked low and slow like risotto, and in this recipe we’re pairing it with fresh summer zucchini and basil. A simple summer creamy pasta – that just happens to be plant-based!

👉 Ready to learn how to make orzotto with zucchini? Let’s do it!


🤔 What is orzotto?

Orzotto is a pasta dish that is cooked similar to risotto, but instead of using Arborio or Carnaroli rice, it is made with orzo. Orzo is a type of pasta that is shaped like a grain of rice, hence the name “orzotto” (a combination of orzo and risotto).

The process for cooking orzotto is the same as risotto, which involves sautéing the orzo in a pot with vegetables and seasonings while slowly stirring in a liquid like vegetable broth to create a creamy and soft pasta.


🌿 Ingredients

  • Orzo pasta: a small pasta that is shaped like rice, orzo is the base of “orzotto”
  • Zucchini squash: zucchini or other small summer squashes work well in this recipe
  • Vegetable broth: the liquid that cooks the orzo
  • Olive oil: a small amount to cook the zucchini
  • Herbs and spices: simple seasonings like salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and chopped basil
  • Recommended tools: small pot, large pot, measuring cups, and a large spoon
zucchini, orzo pasta, vegetable broth, and seasonings on a white table for orzotto pasta
Ingredients: zucchini, orzo, broth, basil, seasonings

🥣 How to make (step-by-step photos)

1️⃣ Step One: Heat vegetable broth

Before beginning to cook the orzo, first you’ll need to heat the vegetable broth so it’s ready to stir into the orzo.

To do this, warm the vegetable broth (but do not boil) in a small pot over medium-low heat. Let the broth sit and warm while cooking the orzo.

vegetable broth inside a pot
Heat vegetable broth

2️⃣ Step Two: Cook zucchini

Next it’s time to cook the zucchini. To do this, first heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Then add sliced zucchini and it sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the zucchini until it becomes very soft and releases its water, about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and cook 1-2 minutes more.

cooked zucchini slices inside a large pot
Cook zucchini

3️⃣ Step Three: Cook the orzo like risotto

Next it’s time to get to work and cook the orzotto! To do this, add orzo pasta to the pot and stir to combine with the zucchini.

dry orzo with zucchini stirring in a large pot with a wooden spoon

Then, take a 1/4 cup measuring cup of the reserved warm vegetable broth and slowly pour into the orzo pot, using a large spoon to continue to stir the broth into the orzo.

Continue stirring the orzo until the broth has been completely absorbed, then add another 1/4 cup of vegetable broth and stirring until it is absorbed.

Repeat this process until the orzo is cooked until al dente, or when it is soft but still firm and not mushy (usually about 15-17 minutes total).

cooked orzo pasta in a pot with zucchini and a wood spoon
Cook orzo until soft and creamy

4️⃣ Step Four: Season and serve

When the orzo is almost done cooking, sprinkle it with more salt and pepper and stir in the cheese or nutritional yeast. Before serving stir in the chopped basil.

Then serve with a sprig of basil as garnish, and enjoy!

a close up photo of orzo with zucchini and basil in a black bowl
Season and serve

❓ Recipe questions + quick tips

What is the best type of liquid to cook orzotto?

The best type of liquid to cook orzotto is typically broth or stock, such as vegetable or mushroom broth. These types of liquids add flavor to the orzo while keeping it moist and enhancing its overall taste. However, you can also experiment with other liquids like wine or a combination of broth and wine to further enhance the flavors of your orzotto.

Can I use other types of squash in this recipe?

Any type of squash that can be cooked until soft will work in this recipes, including summer squash, crookneck, or pattypan.

Can I use other seasonings in this recipe?

Any type of fresh or dried herbs can be used in this recipe. Basil, thyme, oregano, or sage (or any combination of these) will make great additions to this simple orzotto.


🧊 How to store and reheat

  1. Refrigerator storage: Store leftover orzo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  2. Freezer storage: I do not recommend freezing as the texture will be mushy when thawed.
  3. Reheat instructions: To reheat, cook for 5 in the stove or 2 minutes in the microwave. Stir in 1 tablespoon of water to add moisture to rehydrate the orzo if it has dried.
a black bowl with creamy zucchini orzotto pasta with a gold fork on a table with fresh zucchini

👉 More orzo pasta recipes

Want more seasonal orzo recipes? Try Lemon White Bean Kale Orzo Soup and Lemony Asparagus Orzo Pasta.

a screenshot of Fork in the Road's 4-day plant-based meal plan
NOT SURE WHERE TO START WITH PLANT-BASED EATING?

Get my 4-Day Plant-Based Meal Plan to start your journey on the plant path.

a black bowl with creamy zucchini orzotto pasta with a gold fork on a table with fresh zucchini

Creamy Zucchini Orzotto

Kristina Todini, RDN
Creamy Zucchini Orzotto, a simple orzo pasta dish cooked like risotto until soft and creamy with seasonal zucchini and fresh basil. Perfect for summer!
5 stars (2 ratings)
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Italian-Inspired, Vegan
Servings 4 servings
Calories 489 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 small pot
  • 1 large pot or Dutch oven
  • 1 1/4 cup measuring cup
  • 1 large spoon

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds zucchini squash thinly sliced (about 3 zucchini)
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 16 ounces orzo
  • ½ cup basil chopped
  • Optional: parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Heat vegetable broth: In a small pot over medium-low heat, warm the vegetable broth (but do not boil). Let the broth sit and warm while cooking the orzo.
  • Cook zucchini: Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add zucchini slices, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until zucchini becomes very soft and releases its water, about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  • Cook orzo: Add orzo pasta to the pot and stir to combine with the zucchini. Take a 1/4 cup measuring cup of the reserved warm vegetable broth and slowly pour into the orzo pot, using a large spoon to continue to stir the broth into the orzo. Continue stirring the orzo until the broth has been completely absorbed, then add another 1/4 cup of vegetable broth and stirring until it is absorbed. Repeat this process until the orzo is cooked until al dente, or when it is soft but still firm and not mushy (usually about 15-17 minutes total).
  • Season and serve: When the orzo is almost done cooking, sprinkle it with more salt and pepper and stir in the cheese or nutritional yeast. Before serving stir in the chopped basil. Then serve with a sprig of basil as garnish.

Notes

Prep ahead: This recipe is best made fresh, however you can prep it up to 2 days ahead of time (you may need to add a liquid like water or broth to rehydrate the orzo).
Leftovers and storage: Store leftover orzo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I do not recommend freezing as the texture will be mushy when thawed. To reheat, cook for 5 in the stove or 2 minutes in the microwave. Stir in 1 tablespoon of water to add moisture to rehydrate the orzo if it has dried.
Nutrition notes: Nutrition information is an estimate using all listed ingredients and nutritional yeast in place of cheese. This recipe uses all plant-based ingredients if using nutritional yeast, which makes it suitable for vegan diets.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 489kcalCarbohydrates: 95gProtein: 18gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 970mgPotassium: 854mgFiber: 6gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 1120IUVitamin C: 41mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 2mg
Keyword zucchini orzo, zucchini orzotto
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Did you make this recipe? Rate it!