Greek Orzo with Tomatoes, Feta, Olives, and Fresh Basil is a delicious meatless meal that a whole family will love! This quick and easy side dish pairs well with any main course, and it comes together in under 30 minutes, using only one pan. Try this Mediterranean recipe, and it might become one of your new favorites.
Perfect side dish - Greek orzo with tomatoes and feta
I love making side dishes that go with anything! This Greek orzo will make a delicious pairing with your favorite proteins, such as grilled, baked, or pan-seared meats (chicken, pork, lamb, steak) or seafood (salmon, shrimp, scallops). Pair it with cilantro-lime honey salmon, garlic butter shrimp, or cajun chicken. You can also serve Greek orzo on its own - it makes a fantastic meatless main course. Everything is cooked in one pan in under 30 minutes - a perfect weeknight choice for busy people and families. This easy Mediterranean-style side dish also makes a beautiful presentation, and you can make it for special occasions when you have company over or guests.
How to make Greek orzo (quick overview)
- How to cook the orzo. First, you will cook orzo together with chicken stock (or vegetable stock, or water). Usually, the orzo is cooked in 1:2 proportion, for example, 1 cup of orzo in 2 cups of water, or 1.5 cups of orzo in 3 cups of water. Cook according to package instructions, which usually means 10 minutes. You might have to add a small amount of liquid (if the orzo is too dry) and check on your orzo 5 minutes into the cooking, to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the skillet.
- What kind of pan to use? Because orzo is so small, you can cook it pretty much in any kind of cooking pan. I cooked it in a large cast iron skillet, and then added the rest of the ingredients into the same skillet, making it a one-pan meal.
- Best add-ins for Greek orzo. After the orzo is cooked, add sliced cherry tomatoes (I recommend multi-colored, red, and yellow), sliced sun-dried tomatoes, sliced kalamata and green olives, and most of crumbled (or cubed) feta cheese.
- Best seasonings for orzo. After the orzo is cooked, add freshly squeezed lemon (or lime) juice, and a couple of tablespoons of high-quality extra virgin olive oil to the orzo. You can also use butter, but because it's Greek orzo, I definitely recommend using high-quality, extra virgin olive oil - this recipe is a perfect use for it! Season with a small amount of smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.
- Reheat everything on low heat until all the ingredients are heated through to your liking. Season with salt and pepper. When you are ready to serve, simply top Greek orzo with a small amount of crumbled feta and chopped fresh basil.
- A note about salt. Because this recipe uses lots of salty ingredients (such as olives and feta cheese), season it with salt at the very end, and don't overdo it.
- 1.5 cups orzo
- 3 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock or water
- 8 oz cherry tomatoes (red and yellow), sliced in half
- ⅓ cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (chopped)
- ⅓ cup kalamata olives sliced
- ¼ cup green olives sliced
- 6 oz feta cheese crumbled or diced into small cubes
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
- salt and pepper
- In a large, high-sided skillet, combine orzo and chicken stock. Bring to a brief boil, reduce to a visible simmer, and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes (according to package instructions). Check the orzo 5 minutes into the cooking, and stir it to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Orzo is cooked when all the water is absorbed and the orzo has a nice texture of cooked pasta. You might have to add more water at the end if the orzo is undercooked or the water evaporates too fast.
- Stir in halved cherry tomatoes, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, sliced kalamata olives, and sliced green olives. Add Feta cheese (crumbled or diced into small cubes), reserving ¼ cup of cheese for later.
- Add lemon juice (or lime), extra virgin olive oil, smoked paprika, and Italian seasoning.
- Reheat everything on low heat, constantly stirring, to blend all the ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper.
- When serving, top with the remaining feta cheese and chopped fresh basil.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
- Fridge. Greek orzo keeps well refrigerated for up to 4 days! What's not to love?! Keep it in an airtight container, of course.
- Freezer. Freeze this dish for up to 2 months.
How to reheat
- Stove-top. Reheat over low-medium heat in any kind of appropriately sized cooking pan. Add a small amount of olive oil when reheating, and stir often.
- Microwave oven. Reheat Greek orzo in a deep, high-sided microwave-safe dish (bowl) for about 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave oven, stir everything well. Return to the oven and reheat for 30 more seconds or more, until heated through.
Can you freeze it?
Yes, the Greek orzo freezes really well since it doesn't have any cream. It's a perfect recipe for your weekly or monthly meal prep! While this meal can be frozen with tomatoes in it, you can also freeze it without the fresh tomatoes, and add them only when serving.
Substitutions and variations
- Pasta. You can make this recipe with any other kind of short-cut pasta, such as bow-tie (farfalle), spiral pasta (fusilli), penne, or rigatoni.
- Rice. You can easily make this recipe with rice instead of orzo. After all, orzo is shaped very similarly to rice! I recommend jasmine rice, basmati rice, any long-grain rice, or Arborio rice.
- Lime or lemon will work great. Freshly squeezed juice is always the best!
- Veggies. My favorite veggies for Greek orzo are chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, zucchini, arugula, and spinach.
- Cheese. You can use grated Parmesan, Asiago, or Mozzarella cheese instead of or in addition to Feta cheese.
What to serve with it
- Arugula Salad with Pears, Apples, Cashews, and homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Simple Arugula Salad with Lemon Zest, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts
- Strawberry Spinach Salad