Last updated on January 29th, 2023 at 07:59 am
Put your fork away. You'll be needing a big spoon for this wonderfully creamy pasta bowl with silky lemon orzo, baby spinach and peas. Get dinner on the table in 10-minutes. This is fast food at its most fabulous.
This recipe was originally published November 16, 2019 and reposted on December 3, 2022 with updated ingredients and substitutions, instructions and images.
Having quick and easy vegan recipes in your back pocket can make the difference between getting through the week and getting through eating two-minute noodles every night.
You can power up with my 3-ingredient vegan zucchini soup, a 5-ingredient pumpkin lentil soup with ginger or slam down a quick vegan shawarma with roasted jackfruit. Or, you can try this dreamy orzo bowl.
Why You'll Love This Lemon Orzo Recipe
We have this recipe on speed dial. Why?
- Orzo is super fast food - you can have dinner on the table in under 10-minutes
- It's cooked in a single pot
- This lemon orzo is made with pantry ingredients the recipe base is made from pantry-friendly staples
- It's cheap - it only costs a few dollars to feed 3 people and it's
- Adaptable. Make it your own with your favourite greens or vegan cheese.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Orzo (risoni). Well, you kind of need this as it's lemon orzo. You can find orzo or risoni in your pasta aisle at the supermarket.
Olive oil. Not pictured.
Leek. I love the delicate flavour of leeks for this lemon orzo, but a white onion or French shallots will work too.
Salt and pepper. Again. Always.
Dried oregano. Oregano works really well with the lemon and garlic but you could swap it for a little basil or even mix it up with a pinch of chilli flakes. Just for something different.
Vegetable stock. While you can use water, stock just gives more oomph to the flavour and adds depth.
Dairy-free milk. I use soy but cashew, oat or almond will work too
Lemon. We are using both the juice and the zest so if you can get your hands on organic lemons, that would be great,. If not, no matter.
Frozen peas. Adding a little protein and colour.
Leafy greens. I like baby spinach but you can use your favourite leafy green. You will need to add them a little earlier to make sure they cook through.
Vegan parmesan. Because it's yum.
Are Orzo and Risoni the Same Thing?
Yup. Risoni in Australia is Orzo pretty much everywhere else. We also call swimsuits "toggs," thongs "g-strings" and football "footy." Don't ask me why, I just live here.
Risoni and orzo are different names for the same little rice-shaped pasta that is fast becoming my new food crush. It is super quick to cook and when made in a single pot, like this creamy lemon orzo, it's like eating risotto with less than half the cooking time.
Orzo cooks in around 7-minutes and continues cooking so by the time you've thrown some plates on the table, dinner is served.
How to Make a Super Quick Lemon Orzo
Step 1. OK, so first we are going to heat the olive oil in a skillet or pan over low-medium heat. Add the sliced leek and cook, stirring regularly, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the leek is soft.
Step 2. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant before stirring in the dried oregano and the orzo (risoni).
Step 3. Stir the mixture together and then add the stock, lemon zest and juice and the dairy-free milk. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the mixture up to a boil before reducing the heat again to a simmer.
Step 4. Cook the orzo for around 7 minutes, stirring regularly to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan, adding the peas at the 5-minute mark. You want it almost al dente.
Step 5. Go ahead and remove it from the heat and stir in the baby spinach and a little butter. Let it sit for a minute to give the spinach time to wilt before serving.
Serve with vegan parmesan and some fresh herbs.
This lemon orzo is so adaptable. If peas and spinach aren't your thing, make it your own by adding a twist. We've tried and tested these variations:
- finely sliced kale
- grilled asparagus spears
- sliced and sautéed rainbow chard
- lots of pepper!
- roasted chickpeas served on top
- crumbled tofu feta
- chilli flakes
- fresh basil
Fantastically creamy with a hint of lemon, oregano, green peas and baby spinach, this lemon orzo is like a quick bear hug.
A perfect bowl of comfort on chilly days and pretty darn good served cold when you need it - don't judge, sometimes a girl can't wait to re-heat. A simple little recipe for the back pocket when you need fast food but you want it fabulous.
You can refrigerate leftover orzo in a sealed container in the fridge for a day or two. While it will be delicious it won't be as "saucy" after refrigeration.
Yes. Allow the orzo to cool completely before popping it in to a freezer-proof container and freezing it for up to 3 months.
Looking for more super quick meal ideas? Try these easy vegan recipes:
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If you like this recipe, please check out my cookbook. Great Vegan Meals for the Carnivorous Family is full of simple, carnivore-approved family recipes.
Quick Lemon Orzo Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 leek white only, finely sliced (use a small white onion in a pinch)
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup uncooked orzo
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- ½ cup dairy-free milk
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup green peas frozen or fresh
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter spread
- 1 cup finely sliced spinach
- ¼ cup vegan parmesan (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet or pan over low-medium heat. Add the sliced leek and cook, stirring regularly, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the leek is soft.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute before stirring in the dried oregano and the orzo (risoni).
- Stir the mixture together and then add the vegetable stock, the lemon zest and juice and the dairy-free milk. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the mixture up to a boil before reducing the heat again to a simmer.
- Cook the orzo for around 7 minutes, stirring regularly to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan, adding the peas at the 5-minute mark. You want it almost al dente.
- Remove the orzo from the heat, stir in the sliced baby spinach and a tablespoon of vegan butter and set it aside for a minute for the spinach to wilt and the orzo to finish cooking.
- Serve with a cook crack of pepper and some fresh herbs. I often use parsley or fresh basil.
- Add parmesan cheese if you like although it isn't necessary. Serve and enjoy.
- finely sliced kale
- asparagus spears
- sliced rainbow chard
- vegan parmesan
- lots of pepper!
- roasted chickpeas served on top
- sautéed shredded oyster mushrooms
This is AMAZING...I used chicken broth and half&half cause that's what I had on hand, I also used 2 lemons
Yaaayyyy, Michele. That's so great to hear and I love that you went hard on the lemons. I've got a creamy lemon pasta recipe coming up that I think you'll love too. Thanks so much for leaving a comment - it's so lovely of you. A,x.
Loved this! I added roasted chickpeas and roasted broccoli. The creamy lemon sauce for the orzo was both flavorful and versatile enough to pair with any number of toppings.
Hey Lily, thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it. I am so glad you enjoyed the orzo - it's such a quick and easy dinner and I love the addition of chickpeas and broccoli - I'm going to try that myself next time. 🙂
This was a great recipe. I was hungry and in the middle of a work day- I saw I had about a half a cup of orzo and thought I could make a quick lunch.
I halved the liquid ( ended up needing a splash more), added about 1/4 cup nutritional yeast with the liquid, used half a lemon ( zest plus juice). Topped with basil.
So good! Thank you for sharing this!
Perfect! Orzo is such a quick and easy dinner and I am happy to hear you could halve the recipe. Nutritional yeast makes everything better, doesn't it?! Thanks, Loreen. x