This 30 minute tomato orzo with balsamic broccolini is hearty, simple to make, and loaded with flavour from shallots, garlic, thyme, capers, and fresh tomatoes. Made almost entirely on the stovetop with quick cooking orzo pasta, this is a perfectly cozy weeknight vegan main.
When I’m in a bit of a rut as far as vegan dinner recipes go, orzo is always there! It cooks quickly, is super versatile, and is naturally quite satisfying. In this tomato orzo, we add a bit of non-dairy cream, lots of my go-to flavour bombs, vegetable stock, and we top it with balsamic roasted broccolini. The whole thing comes together, mostly on the stovetop, in about 30 minutes!
Is orzo rice or pasta? Orzo is a wheat based pasta that is shaped like rice! I generally prefer a whole wheat orzo if I can find it, but gluten-free versions are also widely available.
I went in with fresh tomatoes here because I have an abundance of them on hand right now. Two cups/16 oz of canned crushed tomatoes would work well as a substitute. I recommend using less when using canned tomatoes because the flavour is concentrated. Once you sauté the aromatics, add the tomatoes, pasta, vegetable stock, and non-dairy cream, all you have to do is roast the broccolini on a sheet pan. From there, you bring it all together to serve!
Garnishing this dish with vegan “parmesan”, extra chili flakes, basil, and swoops of olive oil is ideal. I like to serve this vegan tomato orzo with a simple green salad or a simple veggie side like sautèed green beans. I also just enjoy the creamy orzo and roasted broccolini as-is! It’s a hearty serving for 3 people and a decent serving for 4 ;)
Fans of this vegan pasta dinner might also enjoy my creamy lemon orzo with chickpeas and broccoli or this creamy vegan penne pasta with rosé sauce. I hope that you give this simple recipe a try the next time you need some weeknight dinner inspiration!
30 Minute Tomato Orzo with Balsamic Broccolini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 bunches broccolini, tough ends trimmed
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 large shallot, finely diced (about ¾ cup diced shallot)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 1 tablespoon capers, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes, or more to taste
- 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup heaped dry orzo pasta
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy cream (see notes)
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn
- vegan “parmesan”, for serving (optional)
- balsamic glaze, for serving (optional)
- In terms of unsweetened, dairy-free cream, I like this oat-based one from Earth’s Own, this almond and coconut one by nutpods, and this “heavy cream” option by Silk. You can also make your own by blending ⅓ cup cashews and ⅔ cup water in a high speed blender.
- Once you’ve added the liquid, I recommend stirring the orzo pretty much constantly as it tends to stick to the bottom of the pot.
- You could use 2 cups/16 oz of canned crushed tomatoes instead of fresh in this recipe. I personally always go for the fire-roasted variety.
- Preheat your oven to 425°F. If your broccolini stems are thick, cut them down the middle lengthwise. Transfer all trimmed broccolini to a baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Spread the broccolini out into a single layer and roast for about 10-15 minutes, or until tender.
- Start on the tomato orzo. In a deep skillet or braiser-style pot over medium heat, add the remaining olive oil. Add the shallot to the skillet and sauté until very soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, capers, garlic, nutritional yeast, and chili flakes to the skillet and stir. Sauté until very fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the cherry tomatoes to the skillet and stir. Sauté until they start releasing juice and softening (you can speed this up by pressing down on them a bit with your stirring spoon), about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the orzo and stir.
- Pour in the vegetable stock and non-dairy cream and stir. Bring the orzo to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the orzo is plumped up and a lot of the liquid is absorbed, about 10-11 minutes. I recommend stirring pretty much constantly as the orzo does tend to stick to the bottom of the pot. Add more splashes of stock (or water) if necessary.
- Check the orzo for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Stir in the fresh basil and serve with the broccolini on top and some vegan “parmesan” and balsamic glaze as garnish.