Creamy Orzo with Green Peas and Crispy Prosciutto



Creamy Orzo with Green Peas and Crispy Prosciutto - in a white bowl.

This Creamy Orzo with Green Peas and Crispy Prosciutto (or bacon) is ready in just 30 minutes and is bound to become a family favorite! Serve it as a side dish to your favorite grilled meats or as a satisfying meal on its own. Perfect for dinner and equally delicious as leftovers for lunch.

Creamy Parmesan Orzo with Green Peas and Crispy Prosciutto - in a pan.

The best creamy orzo

This creamy parmesan orzo is a breeze to whip up and so delicious! Start by sautéing chopped onions and minced garlic in butter until they’re fragrant. Next, add uncooked orzo and Italian seasoning, toasting the orzo until it turns a lovely golden color—this step really enhances the flavor! Pour in 2 cups of chicken stock and let it simmer for 10 minutes until the orzo is perfectly cooked. Meanwhile, crisp up some prosciutto in a preheated oven at 350°F on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 10 minutes. You can also use bacon instead! Once the orzo is ready, stir in heavy cream and then sprinkle shredded (or grated) Parmesan cheese over the top, stirring until it melts. Finish by topping with the crispy prosciutto, and voila! You’ve got an amazing pasta dish that’s perfect as a main course or a side to your favorite grilled meats! Looking for other simple orzo ideas? Then, check out super popular Greek orzo or reader-favorite creamy spinach and mushroom orzo.

Creamy Parmesan Orzo with Green Peas and Crispy Prosciutto - in a white bowl.

Add protein

To make this pasta dish a more substantial and well-balanced meal, add your favorite protein. Easy options include leftover cooked chicken, rotisserie chicken, grilled meats, shrimp, salmon, or scallops. Here are my favorite protein-based recipes that pair perfectly with creamy parmesan orzo.

Variations, substitutions, and add-ins

  • Pasta. You can prepare this recipe with any other type of short-cut pasta, such as bow-tie (farfalle), spiral pasta (fusilli), penne, or rigatoni. In this case, cook the pasta separately.
  • Rice is an excellent (and gluten-free!) substitute for orzo. After all, orzo closely resembles rice in shape!
  • Veggies. I recommend using fresh green peas, zucchini, spinach, arugula, asparagus, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, or bell peppers.
  • What cheese is best for creamy orzo? I recommend Parmesan, Asiago, Gruyere, or Pecorino Romano.
  • Add pine nuts as a topping. For an even richer flavor, I like to toast them briefly (and carefully!) in the oven.
  • Add other toppings, such as fresh herbs (basil, thyme, or oregano), chopped green onions, or chopped chives.
  • Heavy cream or half-and-half – either works fine.
  • Red pepper flakes will add heat and flavor!

Creamy Parmesan Orzo with Green Peas and Crispy Prosciutto - in a pan.

Can I make it gluten-free?

You can find gluten-free orzo online or in select grocery stores—be sure to check the label! Alternatively, jasmine or basmati rice can be used as gluten-free substitutes. All other ingredients in the recipe are naturally gluten-free.

Storage Tips

  • Fridge. Keep creamy parmesan orzo refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer. You can freeze it for up to 2 months.

Reheating Tips

  • For stove-top reheating, warm the creamy orzo over low to medium heat in an appropriately sized cooking pan. To prevent sticking, add a small amount of milk, half-and-half, heavy cream, or water to thin it out.
  • To reheat in the microwave, place leftover creamy orzo in a deep, high-sided microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir well, then return to the microwave for an additional 30 seconds or more until heated through. Add a splash of half-and-half or heavy cream to restore creaminess if desired.

More orzo recipes to try

Print

Creamy Orzo with Green Peas and Crispy Prosciutto

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This Creamy Orzo with Green Peas and Crispy Prosciutto (or bacon) is ready in just 30 minutes and is bound to become a family favorite! Serve it as a side dish to your favorite grilled meats or as a satisfying meal on its own. Perfect for dinner and equally delicious as leftovers for lunch.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword creamy orzo, garlic parmesan orzo
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 538kcal
Author Julia

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Take the Parmesan cheese out of the refrigerator, grate or shred it onto a plate, and keep it near the stove as you continue with the recipe. The Parmesan should be at room temperature when you sprinkle it over the orzo at the end of the cooking process.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper, add torn prosciutto, and cook for no more than 10 minutes until crispy.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a medium-sized, high-sided pan. Add chopped onion, generously sprinkle with salt, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add minced garlic and continue cooking for 2 more minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the orzo, Italian seasoning, and 1 tablespoon of butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes to toast the orzo until it becomes golden brown.
  • Pour in 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add green peas, stir well, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir frequently to ensure the orzo doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If needed, add an additional ¼ cup of chicken stock or water towards the end if the orzo absorbs liquid too quickly.
  • Once the orzo is cooked, pour in the heavy cream and mix it thoroughly. Remove the pan from the heat and evenly sprinkle shredded (or grated) Parmesan cheese over the orzo, stirring until the cheese melts completely. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Top with crispy prosciutto.

Notes

  • Lighten it up by replacing ¼ cup of heavy cream with half-and-half or whole milk.
  • Make it dairy-free by using unsweetened coconut milk, cashew, oat, or almond milk instead of heavy cream. Use vegan butter and vegan mozzarella shreds.
  • Make it gluten-free using GF orzo or cooked long-grain rice (jasmine or basmati).
  • Other green veggies I recommend are zucchini, spinach, arugula, asparagus, or broccoli.
  • Instead of prosciutto, you can use 6 strips of cooked and chopped bacon.

Nutrition

Calories: 538kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 790mg | Potassium: 427mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 974IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 348mg | Iron: 2mg

Creamy Parmesan Orzo with Green Peas and Crispy Prosciutto - in a white bowl.

Summer hiking season in Colorado

On a personal note, my summer hiking season continues! Colorado is so beautiful in June.  I’ve hit the same trail four times this week, aiming to increase my pace and reach the top faster each time. I live high in the mountains, and up here right now, snow still blankets the mountaintops, and the rivers swell from June’s thaw. The weather? Perfect. Here I am, at 10,000 feet, and the views are simply breathtaking. Can’t wait to explore more trails next week!

Hiking trail in Colorado.

This is my everyday hiking trail.

Julia on a hiking trail in Colorado.

Windy hiking conditions this week.

Aspen trees and blue sky.

view of aspen trees and blue sky.


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