30 Minute Tomato Orzo with Balsamic Broccolini

Created by Laura Wright
4.93 from 14 votes

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.

An overhead shot of a creamy vegan tomato orzo dish in a pot with roasted broccolini and fresh basil on top.
An up close overhead shot of a creamy vegan tomato orzo dish in a pot with roasted broccolini and fresh basil on top.
An overhead shot of a vegan tomato orzo dish, served up in a light grey serving bowl. The orzo is topped with roasted broccolini.
An overhead shot of ingredients used in a vegan tomato orzo dish with broccolini.
A slightly angled overhead shot shows chopped small tomatoes in a beige ceramic bowl.

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 with red wine vinegar dressing, or a basic 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!

An overhead shot shows dry orzo pasta being poured into a pot with sautéed tomatoes.
An up close, overhead shot shows broccolini stalks on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and seasoned with salt and pepper.
An overhead shot of a creamy vegan tomato orzo dish in a beige braiser-style pot.
An overhead shot of a creamy vegan tomato orzo dish in a pot with roasted broccolini and fresh basil on top.

30 Minute Tomato Orzo with Balsamic Broccolini

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.
4.93 from 14 votes
An up close overhead shot of a creamy vegan tomato orzo dish in a pot with roasted broccolini and fresh basil on top.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings 3 -4

Ingredients

  • 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)

Notes

  • 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.

Instructions

  • 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.
An overhead shot of a vegan tomato orzo dish, served up in a light grey serving bowl. The orzo is topped with roasted broccolini.
31/08/2022 (Last Updated 18/08/2023)
Posted in: autumn, broccoli, creamy, main course, nut free, pasta, quick, refined sugar-free, salty, side dish, sour, spring, summer, sweet, tomatoes, umami, vegan, winter

13 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Kwyn Keenan

    5 stars
    This was an amazing way to use up some of the smaller tomatoes from my garden. I used a combination of yellow and red. Super delicious!

  • Rachel

    5 stars
    This was SO good. I used coconut milk in place of heavy cream and omitted capers and it turned out amazing. So rich, and I loved the touch of balsamic.

  • Jovi

    5 stars
    So flavorful! I used puréed roasted tomatoes from the garden since I harvested every ripe tomato already. Cozy, rich, delicious. A little soupier than I expected. Yum!

  • Veronique

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Very easy to make and tons of flavours, thank you!

  • Jennifer

    5 stars
    Made this tonight. It was delicious! I just used broccoli and canned tomatoes. I didn’t have capers so threw in some roasted red pepper. I’ll definitely be making this regularly.

  • Justine

    Hi, I’m pretty sure it’s not just me, but I haven’t been able to get up the little photo when I print your recipes for a long time. The box is there to tick, but nothing happens…

  • Riley

    5 stars
    I’m obsessed with this recipe. It’s so creamy and delicious with cashew cream. I’m excited to make something similar this summer once corn is in season!

  • Lizzie

    Just wanted to say that we made this for dinner and it was delicious! Got some of the last tomatoes from the farmer’s market, added a can of white beans, and used broccoli instead of broccolini based on what we could find. Such a lovely end of summer meal.

  • Larissa

    5 stars
    This was so delicious. If I didn’t have to feed my family i would have eaten the entire pot myself. Perfect end of summer cozy recipe to use up all those tomatoes. I ended up using half fresh tomatoes and a can of cherry tomatoes and it was delicious. I also used the silk brand whipped cream. It was rich and luscious! Thanks for another amazing recipe Laura!

  • Caroline Atwood

    4 stars
    This did not take me 30 min as advertised. With prep, I am still not done and its 50 min in. Plus the orzo gets really liquidy. Either need to add more orzo or use less liquid, unless it’s supposed to be soup like? Anyway, I am sure it will taste great as always, I am just late to class now! 

  • Mona

    5 stars
    I made this tonight and your red pepper pasta with charred corn last night and let me just say…WOW. Both were phenomenal. I doubled this recipe, used regular broccoli, and left out the balsamic vinegar because I didn’t have any. A million thanks for two exceptional recipes that I know will be requested by my family again and again.

  • Erin Hansbrough

    Just about to make this! Store was out of broccolini, so I’m doing asparagus. Your website is gorgeous!

  • Brenda

    That looks delicious!  I think I’ll try it with halved Brussels sprouts instead of broccolini.