This recipe will show you how quick and easy it is to make creamy and comforting Italian Pesto Orzo pasta with chicken and green beans.
Pesto Orzo Recipe
My family is so hooked on orzo pasta! I love how creamy orzo gets as it cooks, much unlike most other pasta.
I find it very versatile, too, since you can stir it into soups and casseroles to use it as “filler” to bulk up a recipe and make it go further.
Add cooked, chopped chicken and frozen green beans to have this main-dish meal ready in just minutes, right on your stovetop.
Orzo also cooks very quickly, which is another bonus. Orzo is often made as a cheesy side dish, much like we do with rice, but you can certainly make main dishes with it, too.
We also enjoy orzo as a Caprese Orzo Pasta Salad.
What to love
1 . Jarred basil pesto makes this pasta skillet easy and extra flavorful. All you do it stir it in.
2. This big and beautiful dish’s the perfect skillet meal for special guests.
3. You can make this orzo recipe even more upscale by swapping out the green beans for fresh asparagus.
Pesto orzo recipe ingredients
- Orzo pasta
- Chopped chicken
- Unsalted butter
- Avocado or olive oil
- Liquid: Heavy cream, chicken or vegetable broth
- Vegetables: medium yellow onion, chopped sundried tomatoes packed in oil, frozen green beans
- Cheese: grated parmesan cheese, parmesan cheese block to make cheese ribbons for garnish
- Seasonings: Basil pesto, Italian parsley minced, red pepper flakes, dried oregano leaves, garlic minced or crushed
- Slivered almonds for garnish, optional
- To make the Parmesan ribbons, just run a vegetable peeler across the edge of a block of Parmesan – it works so slick and easy.
- If you don’t feel like cooking chicken for this pasta dish, shred or chop the meat from a rotisserie chicken instead.
How to make pesto orzo
Add the oil and butter to a deep 12-inch skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
When the fats are hot, add the diced onion. Then sauté for 5-6 minutes.
Add the orzo, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, letting the orzo toast a bit in the hot oils and aromatics.
Stir in the chicken broth, cream, pesto, sundried tomatoes, and green beans.
Once the orzo begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low, cooking for 12-15 minutes, uncovered, gently stirring occasionally.
This recipe uses pesto from a jar, but feel free to make your pesto from scratch if desired.
I like to make basil pesto in my food processor at the end of the summer when I’ve got a lot of fresh basil to use up.
Freeze it in ice cube trays to use a few cubes at a time in your favorite Italian recipes.
Let the orzo cook until thickened and creamy in texture, and the orzo is nicely tender.
Like any pasta, only cook the orzo until al dente in doneness. You don’t want the texture of the pasta to be mushy. It should have some “bite” to it.
Stir in the cooked chicken and Parmesan cheese; cook until warmed throughout.
To serve, garnish the orzo with ribbons of Parmesan cheese, Italian parsley, slivered almonds, and more sundried tomatoes, as desired.
Do you heat orzo pesto?
High heat can make basil pesto taste bitter.
Make sure to add the pesto to the orzo over medium or medium-low heat.
What does pesto orzo look like?
Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta that gets creamy as it cooks. Pesto is a pureed blend of fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese, often used as a pasta sauce.
Combining cooked orzo with pesto makes a beautiful, flavorful presentation.
What vegetables goes with pesto pasta?
We used green beans in this orzo recipe, but you can surely use asparagus, baby peas, zucchini, or fresh spinach, just to name a few.
Does orzo taste like normal pasta?
Yep! Orzo is a rice-shaped noodle that is neutral in flavor like most pasta. Because orzo is small in size, it soaks up flavors quickly.
How long is pesto orzo good for?
You can store this creamy pesto orzo in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Can I freeze pesto orzo?
You can freeze orzo pesto pasta but be aware that any time you freeze pasta, it does change the texture a bit, making it a bit “mushy” instead of having the firm al dente bite.
This recipe for orzo has quite a bit of fat from the whipping cream, helping the pasta to freeze better.
More favorite pasta recipes
Even Mexican flavors can shine through in orzo pasta….it’s not just for the Italians.
Spaghetti mac and cheese is a simple pasta casserole made with creamy cheese sauce and spaghetti noodles. You can learn how to create this easy mac n cheese spaghetti made with Velveeta, sharp cheddar, and Parmesan.
Looking for a fun and trendy appetizer? Try air fryer pasta chips! Pasta chips are inexpensive and they cook in just minutes. Serve with marinara or ranch dressing and you’ll be the hit of the party.
Cheesy baked pasta with chicken sausage is all the rage on the internet and it’s going to make your family flip with delight.
- 1 Tbs. avocado or olive oil
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1/2 medium yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced or crushed
- 1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 cup orzo pasta uncooked
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup basil pesto
- 2 Tbs. chopped sundried tomatoes packed in oil
- 1-2 cups frozen green beans
- 2 cups cooked chopped chicken
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Parmesan cheese block to make cheese ribbons for garnish
- Italian parsley minced, for garnish, optional
- Slivered almonds for garnish, optional
- Add the oil and butter to a deep 12-inch skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
- When the fats are nicely hot, add the diced onions; sauté for 5-6 minutes or until softened.
- Add the orzo, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes; cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, letting the orzo toast in the hot oil and aromatics.
- Stir in the broth, cream, pesto, sundried tomatoes, and green beans. Once the orzo begins to bubble, continue cooking over medium-low heat for 12-15 minutes, uncovered, gently stirring occasionally, or until the orzo is tender but not over cooked.
- Stir in the cooked chicken and Parmesan, letting them warm through for just a minute or so.
- Using a vegetable peeler, run it along the side of the block of Parmesan cheese to make some cheese ribbons.
- To serve the orzo, garnish with a few Parmesan ribbons, Italian parsley, slivered almonds, and sundried tomatoes, as desired.