This simple make ahead vegetarian Cheesy One Pot Carrot Orzo Side Dish recipe will easily become one of your favorite healthy side dishes.
It’s an easy to make one-pot vegetable side that’s family friendly, unique enough for adults, and traditional enough for kids.
And, this comfort food dish is the perfect accompaniment to your dinner.
Recipes like my Air Fryer Butternut Squash and Chipotle Maple Sweet Potatoes are great for when you want a family pleasing side dish with minimal effort. I love a great side, and this is one of my Side Dish Recipes you’ll want in your recipe box!
I first made and shared this recipe in 2019, and have updated it here for you with new pictures, how to’s, and information. All for a better user experience.
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Perfect side dish for the holidays
This Carrot Orzo Side dish is colorful and perfect for any family holiday gathering.
It’s similar to risotto, in that it’s a light meatless flavorful caramelized carrot side, but it uses orzo pasta rather than rice, which makes it a quick alternative to most risotto recipes.
Carrot vegetable dish
Carrots are a welcome addition to meals year-round.
Carrots are bright and springy, and yet a comforting fall or winter dish as well. This light dish would also be great in the hot summer months.
You could even toss in a little chicken or tofu to make it a complete one-dish meal.
The carrots become nice and soft, but not mushy, after cooking with the orzo.
And, the orzo absorbs the flavors from the carrots and broth while it cooks.
I made this again recently for a family holiday gathering, and the family had a hard time saying if it was made with carrots, butternut squash, or sweet potatoes. They just all knew they loved it!
Pro tips for how to make the best orzo recipe
Super quick and easy, this dish comes together with a little food processor work, and some stove top cooking.
Since it’s so easy and there are only a handful of ingredients, you want to make sure you get good quality items.
I like the skinny long carrots in bunches with tops still on from the market, rather than the big thick carrots. I think of those big thick ones as being the ones that we used to feed to horses.
Those long skinny ones have a better sweet flavor and a nice texture. Sometimes those big thick carrots are too woody and a little bitter.
Wash, peel, and cut the carrots into 3-inch pieces.
Could I use baby carrots?
You could also use baby carrots for this, and then you don’t even have to peel them. Sometimes I do find that baby carrots are a little bitter though.
If you go with baby carrots, it’s 6 ounces of peeled baby carrots or about 1 & ¼ cups worth.
Place the cleaned carrots in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until carrots are finely chopped.
Add oil & butter to a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, and heat over medium heat. Once oil is hot and butter is melted, add orzo and chopped carrots, and sauté, stirring, until orzo is golden, about 5 minutes.
Toasting the orzo this way in the butter and oil gives it a great nutty roasted flavor and adds to the dish.
Add water, broth, and garlic to the pot. Cook uncovered over medium-high heat until all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 10-15 minutes.
Stir in the shredded Parmesan, chopped green onions, chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper.
That’s it! See, super easy!
Looking for ideas on how to serve orzo side dish recipes for fish, chicken, steak, salmon. Well, this is the side dish for everything, so you’ve come to the right place.
This vegetarian dish is great hot and fresh from the stove.
It can also be served at room temperature or as a cold side dish from the fridge.
Can this be made ahead?
This is a great make ahead vegetable side dish. Making it great for meal prep or for potlucks.
Make it up to 5 days in advance and keep it tightly covered in the fridge.
To reheat, pop it in the oven at 350 ° F for about 10-15 minutes.
It’s also great for picnics and potluck because it doesn’t have to be served hot.
Orzo side dish recipes
Orzo makes a great side dish for any occasion, from special holidays to basil weeknight meals. You’ll want to try these recipes for sure! Orzo with balsamic tomatoes and basil, Homemade Rice-a-roni, Rosemary Orzo Soup, and Instant pot rice-a-roni,
Can I make this if I don’t have orzo?
Orzo is a small, rice-shaped pasta, and because of its small shape, it cooks quickly.
I’m pretty sure that orzo is my favorite pasta shape! It’s so small and lovely, and goes so well in so many dishes.
The orzo in this recipe mixes with the carrot as it cooks, and makes for a nice dispersed mixture throughout the dish.
So, I highly recommend getting this small pasta shape for this dish.
But, if you can’t find orzo at the store, you can substitute a small shaped pasta like fideo, Acini de pepe, ditalini, those little stars. Be sure to check the package directions, as some pastas may have a longer cooking time. Or even try Cauliflower rice in place of the pasta for a lower carb option.
Is orzo gluten-free?
Orzo is not generally gluten-free. However, gluten-free orzo is available, and I’ve seen whole wheat orzo at the store as well. Check around, and if your store has a specialty section, I bet you’ll have good luck there.
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Cheesy One Pot Carrot Orzo Side Dish Recipe
- 7 medium carrots peeled, and cut into 3-inch lengths (about 1 ¼ cups)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or light tasting oil of your choice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup orzo pasta
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 ¼ cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 garlic clove minced or pressed
- ¼ cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
- 1 green onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place carrots in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until carrots are finely chopped.
- Add oil and butter to a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, and heat over medium heat. Once oil is hot and butter is melted, add orzo and chopped carrots, and sauté until orzo is golden, about 5 minutes.
- Add water, broth, and garlic, and cook uncovered over medium-high heat until all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 10-15 minutes.
- Stir in Parmesan, green onions, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Taste for seasonings. Serve.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.