lemon orzo with sautéed zucchini + tomatoes

by Amy on 30 July 2012

today, i’m participating in a fun blogger event — the secret recipe club. how does it work? every blogger is secretly assigned another blog + chooses a recipe from that blog to make. on reveal day (today!), all of our posts go up at the same time, + everyone gets to see who was assigned to their blog, which recipe they chose, + how it turned out. fun, huh?

this month, i was assigned my judy the foodie, a lovely blog where shari chronicles her life + memories of her wonderful mom (Judy) through cooking. there were tons of awesome recipes on shari’s blog, but it wasn’t hard for me to choose what to make. why? because there was a recipe that involved both pasta AND lemon, which are my two favorite foods/flavors in the world. when i saw her recipe for lemon orzo with sautéed veggies, i was all over it!

so, how was it? so amazing! i actually said to my husband, ‘this might be my favorite pasta dish of all time,’ which says a lot, considering what a pasta junkie i am. it was perfect – lemony, fresh + light. i served it warm, as a side dish alongside chicken for dinner, but it was also fantastic cold, as a pasta salad, the next day. i love a versatile dish like that! i preferred the warm version slightly, as it brings out more flavor from the lemon + herbs, but it really was delicious both ways. if you love lemon + pasta, like me, you’ve gotta try this!

thank you to shari for introducing me to this fabulous dish, + to the secret recipe club for connecting me with fantastic bloggers + amazing recipes!

my previous secret recipe club posts:
creamy fettuccine with corn + arugula
lime + raspberry squares with pistachio-graham crust
garlic, cheddar + parmesan rolls
peppermint patty-filled brownie cupcakes
sugar cookie bars
chocolate cheesecake with dark chocolate drizzle

lemon orzo with sautéed zucchini + tomatoes

serves 3-4 as a side dish, adapted from the novice chef blog, as seen on my judy the foodie


1 cup orzo (tri-color orzo is pretty if you can find it in your local store)
8 cups water
1 tbsp. chicken bouillon granules (optional: this is for cooking your orzo – it’ll add more flavor, but is optional)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large zucchini, chopped
15-20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
1 tbsp. lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
juice from 1/2 a lemon
kosher salt + fresh black pepper


bring water + bouillon to a boil in a pot over high heat. add orzo + cook according to package, about 9 minutes, or until al dente. drain, set aside.

in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil. wait for the skillet to heat up a bit, then add shallot + garlic. cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened + fragrant. add zucchini + cherry tomatoes, + sauté for about 5 more minutes, or until the zucchini is tender + the tomatoes are softened. add the thyme + cook for one minute more.

remove from heat + add lemon zest + lemon juice, plus salt + pepper to taste, stirring well. then toss with orzo until well-combined. add more salt + pepper if needed. serve immediately, warm, or chill + serve as a pasta salad.

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 shari@myjudythefoodie July 30, 2012 at 11:09 am

Amy – so happy you liked the orzo recipe! One of my favorites too. Thanks for the kind words : )

2 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious July 30, 2012 at 11:21 am

I love all the flavors and veggies in this! My pants are on the verge of not fitting so this dish is seriously just what I need!

3 Steph@TheChickpeaChickadee July 30, 2012 at 11:32 am

YUM! Looks amazing. Love the combination of flavors. I’m definitely pinning this:) Your picture is pretty fabulous as well.

4 Melissa July 30, 2012 at 11:33 am

What an awesome pasta dish to use some vegetables from the garden. Tomatoes and zucchini are among my favorites!

5 Jackie @ Domestic Fits July 30, 2012 at 11:52 am

Perfect summertime side dish. Or Lunch. Or dinner. :)

6 sarah k @ the pajama chef July 30, 2012 at 11:57 am

yay SRC! this looks amazing, amy! i love lemony dishes in the summer.

7 Kathryn July 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm

So full of flavour! What a perfect summer pasta dish.

8 Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama July 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm

How good does this look! Love it Amy, perfect summer dish!

9 Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girl July 30, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Gorgeous! This is a perfect summer side-dish; and I LOVE that you can serve it both warm and cold.

10 Jessica | Cajunlicious July 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Amy this not only look delicious, but that flavors are amazing!

11 Sarah E. July 30, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I’ve never had orzo but pairing anything with zucchini & tomatoes is always a win in my book :)

12 amy July 30, 2012 at 2:09 pm

orzo is essentially pasta that’s shaped like rice, but you could definitely substitute another type of small pasta, like bowties, elbow mac, or orrechiette. =)

13 Lisa~~ July 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Sounds like wonderful fresh summer garden flavors, I’m saving this recipe as I know it will be a hit in our home.

If you haven’t already, I’d love for you to check out my group “A” SRC entry: Double Chocolate Mousse Cake.

Cook Lisa Cook

14 Lesley Eats July 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Ooh, looks yummy! AND easily vegetarian. :)

15 amy July 30, 2012 at 5:01 pm

yes! you could easily cook the orzo in vegetable broth (or just water) to make it vegetarian-friendly. =)

16 Joanna@Drizzleofsunshine July 30, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Yay for all of these yummy recipes! Now I know what I’ll be doing for the next hour. Thank God it’s Monday because now I have a bunch of meals I can use for the week.

I LOVE orzo. It is a pasta that is not used enough! I usually roast my favorite veggies in the oven and add some EVOO and some seasonings and mix it with the orzo. So versatile!

17 Jeanette July 30, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I love all the summer vegetables in this lemon orzo, and especially the fact that it can be eaten hot, cold or room temp. Great pick for SRC!

18 Choc Chip Uru July 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Your dish looks so delicious and flavoursome 😀
Don’t often say that when vegetables are involved!

Choc Chip Uru

19 Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet July 30, 2012 at 7:05 pm

It’s so pretty! I love sauteed veggies!

20 Asiya @ Chocolate and Chillies July 30, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Perfect dish for summer…light and refreshing! Great SRC pick!

21 Megan July 30, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Orzo is one of my favorite pastas….and I love lemony pasta, too. I MUST try this!

22 Fran@fransfavs.com July 30, 2012 at 11:33 pm

This looks wonderful! You can never have too many summer salads. Bookmarking!

23 Rituparna July 31, 2012 at 1:02 am

Yum Yum … So loved the simple flavours. Delicious !

24 Jocelyn @BruCrew Life July 31, 2012 at 1:52 am

I am a huge pasta lover too…but can you believe I have never tried orzo??? I guess it is time to remedy that since you say this is the best ever:-) It looks super delicious with the zucchini and tomatoes too!!

25 amy July 31, 2012 at 6:05 am

you’ve gotta try orzo, jocelyn – it’s my favorite pasta to use in pasta salads especially!

26 baker street July 31, 2012 at 6:08 am

great choice on the recipe and thanks for introducing me to shari’s blog. :)

27 Renee July 31, 2012 at 7:29 am

Nice recipe! It is like a bowl of summer. Yum.

28 danielle July 31, 2012 at 10:17 am

I love a dish I can eat cold for lunch the next day. And I too am a pasta junkie – sounds great!

29 SallyBR July 31, 2012 at 10:26 am

My kind of pasta dish too, love everything about it!

great pick for the SRC!

30 megan July 31, 2012 at 11:41 am

Hi! sorry for the prolonged absence. but, honestly amy, what a great first post for me to read…I’m a lemon/pasta junkie myself (why are they SOOOOOOOOOO good together?), so this sounds perfect. Until about a year ago, I never cooked with orzo, but I love it now!

This has me hungry for what I’m now referring to as “normal food.” Europe was absolutely great, but I was dying for a homecooked meal the entire time!

Great post!

31 amy July 31, 2012 at 11:45 am

welcome back from europe, friend – so glad to have you back visiting the blog! =)

32 Erin @ Texanerin Baking July 31, 2012 at 11:47 am

Orzo is pasta?! Wow. I feel stupid. I thought it was something similar to quinoa. You know… some healthy kinda grainy / beany thing. Thanks for the lesson. :)

33 amy July 31, 2012 at 11:56 am

ha, you’re too cute! yes, it’s just pasta that’s shaped like a large grain of rice. it’s fantastic for pasta salads + other pasta side dishes!

34 Mommyof2Girlz/StephD July 31, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I have been away from my blog too long! I have missed all your delicious recipe and this one looks amazing! Glad to be back visiting you :)

35 Shari, The Saucy Gourmet July 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm

The perfect light summer meal, I can’t wait to try this combo of flavors!

36 claire @ the realistic nutritionist July 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Yes please!!! :)

37 margaret christine @ notes from maggie's farm July 31, 2012 at 5:25 pm

You had me at lemon!

What a fun project to be a part of! I’m headed over….

38 Baking Serendipity July 31, 2012 at 8:03 pm

I love lemon and orzo! I can definitely see this becoming a summer favorite in my house too :)

39 natalie@theweetslife July 31, 2012 at 9:22 pm

favorite pasta of ALL time?! bold statement…which makes me think i need to give it a try! :)

40 Kelsey @ K&K Test Kitchen July 31, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Oh my, I definitely have to try this one, especially as a fellow pasta junkie! Haha. And it’s great for summer with all the fresh zucchini around!

41 Blond Duck August 1, 2012 at 5:57 am

I’ve never tried orzo…I think I keep getting it mixed up with risotto.

42 amy August 1, 2012 at 6:16 am

they are sort of easy to confuse – risotto is a creamy rice dish, while orzo is rice-shaped pasta!

43 Jess August 1, 2012 at 9:14 am

Yum! I bet this would be good with cous cous or quinoa too!

44 Jenni August 1, 2012 at 11:49 am

YUM! This looks so delicious, and perfect for the hot summer months! Great job! :)

45 Rikki August 2, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I always make a lemon orzo chicken noodle soup, I love those two together so I bet this dish is extra yummy. [:

46 amy August 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm

you have NO idea how awesome lemon orzo chicken noodle soup sounds to me! if you ever want to share the recipe, i’d love it! =)

47 amy August 3, 2012 at 11:15 am

uh, i LOVE the idea of adding lemon zest to meatballs – i have to try that!

48 kristy @ gastronomical sovereignty August 3, 2012 at 11:18 am

as a fellow pasta junkie – i’m with ya. lemon and pasta were MADE for each other. sometimes i’ll even sneak it into spaghetti and meatballs by hiding the zest in the balls. haha – hiding zest in balls. how old am i???

happy belated SRC reveal day!

49 Kirstin August 4, 2012 at 10:33 am

This sounds very light and refreshing. good choice.

50 Melanie August 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I picked 15 cherry tomatoes this morning. I now know what I’m going to do with them!

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