For a taste of summer, Pesto and Vegetable Orzo is a simple, healthy dish with pesto, spinach, green beans and tomatoes. Packed with flavor and ready in 20 minutes.
I planted a lot of basil in my garden this summer, so I made several batches of fresh pesto and found a few new ways to use it. If you’re a pasta and pesto lover, you can’t go wrong with this vegetarian recipe. I like it served warm, but room temperature is good too.
Needless to say, you can choose your preferred veggies. For example, instead of baby spinach, try baby kale. Instead of green beans, try small broccoli or cauliflower florets or even chopped asparagus. (If you do, cut the cooking time by a couple of minutes). In other words, the recipe is versatile. And it’s really quick to make even if you choose to make your own pesto.
I used our Classic Basil Pesto for this vegetable orzo dish, but if you have another favorite – even a store bought pesto – feel free to use that. It’s a great make ahead recipe for a potluck or buffet dish. Try serving it with Sweet and Spicy Salmon or Mediterranean-Style Marinated Chicken.
Tailor to your Taste
- Use any type of pesto you like.
- Instead of orzo, use any small pasta like small fusilli.
- Choose your preferred veggies to add.
- Instead of goat cheese as a garnish, use ricotta or feta (or no cheese at all).
- Add chopped pitted black olives, chopped green onions or matchstick radishes for some crunch.
Shortcut for Vegetable Orzo With Pesto
- Use a good store bought fresh pesto.
Pesto and Vegetable Orzo Recipe
- 1 cup orzo
- large handful green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3 cup baby spinach or kale, roughly chopped
- 10 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 3 tbsp pesto, bought or homemade (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp olive oil (or 2 tbsp)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: splash of lemon or lime juice
- Garnish: goat cheese and/or Parmesan cheese
- BOIL ORZO AND GREEN BEANS: In a medium pot, bring water with a tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add orzo and boil for 5 minutes. Add green beans. Continue boiling for about 5 more minutes until orzo is soft and beans are tender, but both should still have a bit of 'bite' (al dente). Drain well, then add back to pot.
- FINISH THE DISH: Add chopped spinach to orzo in pot and toss well until slightly wilted. Add tomatoes, pesto and enough oil to achieve the consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste. And mix in a squeeze of lemon or lime juice if you like. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with goat cheese and/or Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
- Use any pesto you like or our Classic Basil Pesto recipe: Process in food processor until smooth: 1 cup packed Basil leaves, 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/4 olive oil. (makes 1/2 cup)