Orzo pasta recipe with parmesan and basil – an easy dish for a delightful dinner party


Orzo pasta with parmesan and basil is easy to prepare, delicious and goes with just about anything
Orzo pasta with parmesan and basil is easy to prepare, delicious and goes with just about anything.

I sometimes lament the disappearance of dinner parties as a way to gather with friends and family. For me they have always nourished the soul as much as the body and are still the best way I know to guarantee a four-hour chat with great friends.

I was recently given a book called “How to Host a Dinner Party” by author Corey Mintz. To be honest I thought it was going to be a dull and fussy how-to manual that would make hosting a dinner party seem a lot like assembling a gas barbeque. I read it on a flight home only because I forgot my novel in my checked luggage.
What a great surprise when the book turned out to be funny and practical. Even better, Mintz has a way of keeping you grounded, and reminds the reader that to host a delightful  dinner party you don’t have to be a great cook, you just need to be “a great friend and a better planner.”
We host a lot of dinner parties and it’s still a good lesson, which brings me to this recipe for orzo with parmesan and basil.   
This is a dish that appears at a lot of our family gatherings, especially in the summer.

It seems to go with just about anything, is easy to make and is a nice change from standard pasta dishes. It’s the sort of pasta that you serve as a side dish, like you would rice.

In fact, orzo looks a bit like rice which is how it got its name. Serve this with chicken, shrimp or scallops and a salad for an easy dinner party meal.
I have written the recipe as it appears in the book, Aces (the Best of Bridge series), but I do make it a little differently. I use kamut orzo instead of regular orzo (look in the natural food section of the grocery store). I dice a small onion and sauté that in the butter for a minute before adding the orzo. Sometimes I add a clove of garlic with the onion. The recipe is also delicious with a bit of feta added. And before serving I give it a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of lemon zest. Chives are another tasty addition.

Orzo recipe with parmesan and basil

(From Aces – the Best of Bridge series)
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 ½ cups orzo pasta (I use kamut orzo)
  • 3 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 6 Tbsp chopped fresh basil or 2 Tbsp prepared pesto or 1 ½ tsp dried basil
  • Salt & pepper to taste 

  1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add orzo and sauté 2 min, stirring.
  3. Add stock and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until pasta is tender and water is absorbed (about 20 minutes.)
  5. Stir in parmesan and basil and season with salt and pepper 



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