Lemon Orzo With Zucchini has a bright and citrusy flavor with just the right touch of creaminess!
This is an easy to make, one pot recipe that can be ready in about 30 minutes! With the addition of fresh zucchini and kale, it’s a healthy recipe too! Cream, butter, lemon zest and juice, make this dish incredibly rich and delicious, while fresh parsley and thyme add color with a light savory touch. This is a memorable recipe, that is perfect served hot or cold for a buffet, picnic or as a tasty side with dinner.
What is Lemon Orzo?
- Orzo (AKA risoni) looks like rice and has the texture of rice, but is really an Italian pasta. It is often used in many Greek recipes similar to Panera’s lemon orzo soup.
- Orzo is popular because of its versatility in hot or cold recipes, which makes it an easy go-to for bbq’s, picnics, and potlucks!
- Lemon orzo with zucchini comes out creamy and delicious and works as a hearty vegetarian main dish or a tasty side with its light and refreshing flavors!
- Make this time-saving dish ahead and let the flavors continue to blend! Use it as a side dish, workday lunches or a filler for wraps!
What’s in Lemon Orzo?
PASTA: This recipe makes orzo seem like a creamy risotto without the work! Other kinds of pasta that could be used are ditalini, pastini, small macaroni shells, or acini. White or brown rice could also be used in a pinch, if necessary.
VEGGIES: Zucchini and kale are superfood additions to this recipe. Spinach, sliced brussels sprouts, and even arugula are excellent substitutions for the kale and yellow squash. Or try diced sweet potatoes as a substitute for zucchini. Garden fresh peas, green beans, or asparagus can turn this dish into a new recipe every time!
SAUCE: Real butter, cream, fresh lemon zest, and juice are needed to make this recipe really rich and creamy. Fresh parsley and thyme (or dill) add color and a light savory touch and the sprigs can be used whole as garnishes, if desired.
How to Make Lemon Orzo with Zucchini
This delicious side dish goes together in no time flat.
- Cook garlic in butter, add orzo and thyme, then cook until the orzo is golden brown (as per recipe below).
- Add zucchini and kale and saute until the kale is wilted.
- Deglaze the pan with a little broth, then add remaining broth, lemon zest, juice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer.
- Stir in cream and parmesan cheese, then cook until orzo is tender. Garnish as desired.
What Goes with Lemon Orzo?
This orzo dish is delicious served solo. But it’s equally as delicious when a protein, such as chicken, is added. This versatile recipe can become an easy weeknight main dish!
Serve zucchini orzo along side grilled steak, pork tenderloin, some grilled shrimp skewers, or a fabulous rotisserie chicken.
How to Store Leftovers
- Keep lemon orzo with zucchini in a covered container up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
- Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop and refresh the flavors with a little lemon juice, cream, and/or parmesan cheese.
- Freeze chilled portions in zippered bags for up to 4 weeks.
Other Delicious Recipes To Try!
- Orzo Pasta Salad– a tasty cold side dish
- Parmesan Orzo With Basil – incredible flavor
- Simple Parmesan Pasta With Lemon – zesty and delicious
- Parmesan Asparagus Pasta – ready in 20 minutes!
Lemon Orzo With Zucchini
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 16 ounces orzo pasta
- 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme
- 2 zucchini shredded (or yellow summer squash) about 1 pound
- 3-4 cups kale or arugula or chopped spinach, about 2 ½ ounces
- 3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth, plus more to thin if desired
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
- ½ cup light cream or milk
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried), plus more for garnish
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook butter and garlic about 1 minute, until garlic is fragrant. Add orzo and thyme, and cook while stirring for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Add zucchini and kale and cook for 2-3 minutes, until kale is wilted.
- Add about ½ cup of broth and deglaze the pan, scraping up any charred bits. Add remaining broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook stirring often, until the orzo is al dente, about 8-10 minutes.
- Stir in cream, parmesan, and parsley and cook for 2 minutes, until heated through and orzo is tender. Add additional broth or cream to thin as desired. Sprinkle with additional parmesan and parsley or thyme and serve.
- Refrigerate leftovers in a covered container for up to 3 days.
- Reheat leftovers on the stovetop, or in the microwave. Portions that have cooled completely, can be frozen in zippered bags for up to 4 weeks.
- Add a bit of lemon juice, cream, and parmesan cheese to refresh the flavors.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
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Very slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest