This toasted orzo with peas and parmesan recipe is a delicious, quick, side dish perfect with so many main dishes.

white plate with creamy cooked orzo and herbs

Update 08/2012: I’ve been making this dish for over three years and we continue to love it as a delicious, quick side dish.

As you can see from the updated picture, there are no peas in the dish I took a picture of (even though the title of the recipe is officially “Toasted Orzo with Peas and Parmesan”). That’s because I frequently sub shredded zucchini for the peas and I’m guessing you could go crazy and use other favorite veggies.

The orzo soaks up the flavors of the garlic and onion and is perfectly chewy when finished cooking.

Personally, this dish is so delicious, I can eat the entire pan as my main entree, but I usually decide to share with the fam. I’m nice like that.

Toasted Orzo with Peas and Parmesan

Yield: 4-6 servings as a side dish
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 24 minutes
Total Time: 34 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ΒΌ cups orzo
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley leaves
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving (optional


  1. Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and ¾ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the orzo and cook, stirring often, until most of the grains are golden, about 5 minutes. Carefully stir in the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the orzo is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. (Be careful not to cook at too high of heat at this point because the liquid will evaporate instead of cook the orzo and you’ll be left with undercooked pasta.)
  2. Off the heat, stir in the peas, Parmesan, and parsley and let sit until the peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the lemon wedges.


Vegetables: I often substitute other veggies for the peas, like shredded zucchini, so use your imagination and choose veggies you love (or leave them out)!

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