Basil and Parmesan Orzo (Fancy Homemade Rice-O-Roni)

What a wonderful last five days it has been for me.  I love my kids more than anything, but it isn’t until I became a mother that I realized the value of absolute silence.  My boys, 4 and 6 (along with their two cousins, 6 and 9, also boys) got to take a five-day camping trip to the coast with their Grammie and Papa (Yeah, I know, they were brave grandparents).  While I missed my boys dearly and worried about them constantly, I was completely caught off guard with how much I enjoyed the silence I experienced for those five days.  No whining, no fighting, no yelling… just the faint sound of the fountain splashing in our pond…. aaaahhhhhh…. I completely organized and deep cleaned our house and re-arranged a bunch of our furniture.  My hubby and I went out on several dinner and lunch dates and even skipped our workouts and went straight for the sauna and hot tub at the gym.  I needed that time so much to rejuvenate me.  And now that my sweet, crazy boys are home, their yelling and fighting is met with a much softer, more understanding mommy.

So, I’m sure many of you are asking “What in tar-nation is Orzo?” Am I right? Okay, maybe you didn’t use the word “tar-nation.”  For those of you who have never heard of Orzo, it’s time you experienced the wonderfully versatile pasta that is shaped like a slightly larger grain of rice.  You can find it in any grocery store in the pasta aisle or some grocers carry it in their bulk section.  On of my friends (Miss Katie) also makes a killer cold Orzo salad with cucumbers and feta and some kind of dressing… yumola!

This recipe is one of our family’s favorites because it tastes a lot like the Rice-O-Roni (“the San Fransisco Treat!” …maybe I am dating myself a bit here..) but waaaaayyyy better.  Anyways, bottom line, Rice-O-Roni tastes delish in a Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese kind of way but it is one of those boxed food items that probably has more preservatives and terrible stuff for you in it than it does good stuff.  Here is where the boxed treat meets gourmet. This recipe would go over as a side with just about any meal from burgers to roasted lamb.  It’s fabulous and just as fast as the boxed stuff.


2 Tbsp butter

1 cup uncooked Orzo pasta

1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth – or 2 tsp chicken base and slightly less than 2 cups of water.

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 and 1/2 Tbsp dried basil)

salt and pepper to taste

fresh basil and Parmesan for garnishing


Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Stir in Orzo and saute until lightly browned.

Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. If you are using dried basil, add it now, if using fresh, wait.  Cover.  Reduce heat and simmer until Orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes.

Mix in Parmesan cheese and basil (if using fresh).  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to shallow bowl.  Garnish with fresh basil sprigs and shaved Parmesan.

As always, I like to give credit where credit is due.  I found this recipe a few years back on, submitted by DODIEPAJER.


7 comments on “Basil and Parmesan Orzo (Fancy Homemade Rice-O-Roni)

  1. Melanie Beal says:

    Andrea’s version was amazing. I felt like I was eating in some 5 star restaurant, really! You have wonderful recipies and the photos are fabulous. Just exactly my kind of thing. Thanks so much.

    • Thank you so much Melanie! It’s hearing comments like yours and Andrea’s that make me love blogging. I am so glad you enjoyed the Orzo. I hope you get to try some of the other recipes. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

  2. Andrea says:

    This was a hit!!! It was sooooo yummy with the salmon and some salad and some parm bread. Delish!! Plus, my friend can’t wait to check out your blog. 🙂

  3. Andrea says:

    I’m so glad, because I LOVE straight off the block parm!! 🙂 I’ll let you know; we’re trying it with salmon…..yummy!! Hugs!!

  4. Andrea says:

    Hey Liss!! Trying this tomorrow with a friend of mine! Can’t wait! Hey, do you use fresh parm cheese or the dry stuff in the bottle? Love and miss you!!

    • Andrea. I just love your faith in trying my recipes. It makes me so happy! Always always use fresh, grated off the block parmesan unless you’re sprinkling it on pizza 😉 let me know how you like it or if you have any more questions. Love you!

  5. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for this Alissa!!! I have wanted a replacement for the Rice-a-roni for a long time now. Yay! I can’t wait to try this!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s