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Creamy Orzo With Peas and Parmesan Cheese

This Creamy Orzo With Peas and Parmesan Cheese is an easy and delicious side dish that goes with just about anything and is especially good when fresh spring peas are in season (but frozen peas work too, so you can enjoy it any time)!

This is one of my favorite go-to side dishes. Not only is it full of flavor, it does double duty: it’s two sides dishes all in one. You’ve got pasta and a vegetable, and you only have to dirty one pot!

Me and peas, we have a rocky history. For most of my life, I absolutely despised them and refused to eat them in any way, shape or form.

A pile of peas on my plate? Absolutely not. A few peas in my chicken pot pie or tuna casserole? I picked every single one out and put them to the side for someone else to eat (but, somehow, I could still taste them).

My true nemesis was (and still is) canned peas. That not-so-green color and mushy texture just ruins it for me. I can’t go there. Ever.

Frozen peas, on the other hand, with their bright green color and much fresher texture and flavor, have grown on me as I’ve gotten older. I now enjoy them in my pot pie or casserole, and they are fantastic in this cheesy orzo side dish!

Then there’s fresh peas. Now these, I love. Yep, LOVE. I eat them raw, fresh out of the pod, as soon as I pick them. They’re so sweet, crunchy and good!

It’s amazing how one vegetable can taste so different depending on how it’s prepared.

For many years, my dislike for peas had, sadly, deprived my poor husband of enjoying a vegetable that he actually really likes.

When this recipe came along, all that changed. Peas have made a big-time comeback in our house!

Even a former pea-hater like me loves them and will clean her plate (and even have seconds) when they’re combined with pasta, cheese, garlic, onions, a tasty chicken broth, and heavy cream. YUM!

creamy orzo with peas and parmesan cheese in a pot with a wooden spoon

Ingredients you need:

  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Water
  • Roasted chicken base (such as Better Than Bouillon)
  • Orzo
  • Peas (fresh or frozen)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper

Here’s a look at how to make Creamy Orzo With Peas and Parmesan Cheese:

two images, one of onions in a pot with a wooden spoon with text that says sauté onion in olive oil until beginning to soften, the other of a spoonful of chopped garlic being added to the pot with text that says add garlic, sauté for another minute
two images, one of the pot with broth added to it with text that says combine water and chicken base, add to the pot, the other of the broth boiling with text that says bring to a boil
two images, one of orzo added to the pot with text that says add the orzo and give it a quick stir, the other of the pot covered with a lid with text that says cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until...
two images, one of the cooked orzo in the pot with text that says ...orzo is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, the other of the pot of orzo with peas added to it with text that says stir in peas
two images, one of parmesan cheese added to the pot with text that says add parmesan cheese, the other of heavy cream being poured into the pot with text that says add heavy cream
two images, one of the pot of orzo and peas with a wooden spoon in it with text that says stir to combine, cook on low heat until heated through, the other of a bowl of the finished dish of orzo and peas with text that says enjoy

Tips & Tidbits:

  • Fresh spring peas are super delicious in this dish if you can get them, but frozen peas work well too (and they’re what I use most of the time).
    • If using frozen peas, thaw them before adding. If you’re in a hurry, put them in a colander and give them a good rinse under some warm water just until they are thawed.
  • I love the extra flavor that the broth made with roasted chicken base and water gives the orzo, but you could use homemade or canned chicken broth or stock instead. You could also use vegetable base or broth/stock.
  • Use a good quality Parmesan cheese for this recipe. It makes a difference!
  • Feel like changing things up a bit? Use spinach, broccoli, green beans, zucchini, asparagus, or other veggies instead of peas. Or you could leave the veggies out and just have some cheesy orzo.
    • When using other vegetables, since you’re only going to heat them through at the end, they should be cooked first before adding (except for the spinach; that can be mixed in raw, and the heat will wilt it down).
  • Some diced ham stirred in would turn this into a simple, yummy one-pot meal.
  • Leftovers reheat well. Heat slowly over very low heat, stirring often, and add a little heavy cream, milk, or broth to bring back that creamy texture if needed.
spoonful of creamy orzo with peas and parmesan cheese being lifted out of the bowl

Just look at that creamy, cheesy goodness and those gorgeous green peas. Makes you want to dig right in, doesn’t it? This family-friendly side dish is one that you’ll keep coming back to again and again.

I hope you try this recipe for Creamy Orzo With Peas and Parmesan Cheese and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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Creamy Orzo With Peas and Parmesan Cheese

This Creamy Orzo With Peas and Parmesan Cheese is an easy and delicious side dish that goes with just about anything and is especially good when fresh spring peas are in season (but frozen peas work too, so you can enjoy it any time)!
5 from 3 votes
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Estimated Calories: 238

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion, about ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 heaping teaspoon)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons roasted chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon
  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 2 cups peas, fresh or frozen (thawed if frozen)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pot (I use a 3-quart saucepot) over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften.
  • Add the garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, for another minute.
  • Combine the roasted chicken base and water in a bowl or large measuring cup and add the mixture to the pot. Increase the heat and bring to a boil.
  • Once the broth comes to a boil, add the orzo and give it a quick stir.
  • Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the orzo is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Stir in the peas.
  • Add the parmesan cheese and heavy cream. Stir to combine.
  • Continue to cook over very low heat just until the cheese is melted and the peas are heated through. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Notes

  • I love the extra flavor that the broth made with roasted chicken base and water gives the orzo, but you could use homemade or canned chicken broth or stock instead. You could also use vegetable base or broth/stock.
  • Use a good quality Parmesan cheese for this recipe. It makes a difference!
  • Leftovers reheat well. Heat slowly over very low heat, stirring often, and add a little heavy cream, milk, or broth to bring back that creamy texture if needed. 
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!
Recipe Rating




Lisa

Friday 31st of May 2024

I loved it..so good

Michelle

Friday 31st of May 2024

Thank you, Lisa!

Mary

Tuesday 9th of April 2024

Loved it! Used 1 cup green peas, 1 cup asparagus. And added chopped ham to make it a good meal. I also didn’t have onions, so used 1/2 shallots and 1/2 green onions. It was delicious! Thanks for fun, versatile recipe! Can’t wait to try to remainder , cold, mañana!

Michelle

Wednesday 10th of April 2024

That sounds absolutely delicious, Mary! Thanks for sharing, and I appreciate you taking the time to comment and rate the recipe!

Kim

Friday 18th of August 2023

This was absolutely yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

Michelle

Friday 18th of August 2023

So happy you enjoyed it, Kim! Thank you for taking the time to come back and leave a comment!

Claudia B

Tuesday 1st of August 2023

This is great cold or hested

Michelle

Tuesday 1st of August 2023

Thank you, Claudia! I never thought to have it cold...I'll need to try that sometime!