Pesto Orzo with White Beans

By Alexandra Caspero on January 29, 2024
A simple one-pot pesto pasta dinner.
Serves 4

A one-pot dinner! Creamy pesto orzo with white beans, spinach, and parmesan cheese. A simple kid-friendly dinner ready in just 30 minutes.

Ready for an easy dinner recipe? Then you’ve gotta try this one-pot pesto orzo!

We love orzo in my house, especially in my Tuscan kale soup recipe and my lemon orzo soup. It’s quick cooking and makes for a fantastic one-pot dinner. You can use homemade pesto in this recipe or store-bought for an easy 30-minute meal.

See below for tips for success and more details, or scroll down for the full recipe.

Pesto Orzo Pasta

Ingredient Notes

  • Orzo: This recipe was only tested with orzo pasta and using other pasta shapes may not work the same. If you do decide to use another pasta shape, then you will likely need to adjust the amount of broth.
  • Pesto: Any pesto will work in this recipe. My favorite premade pesto brands are Gotham Greens and Trader Joe’s Kale Pesto, as I think fresh pesto is much better than jarred versions. Homemade pesto will also work!
  • White beans: Any canned white beans will work here. I’m partial to navy beans, but great northern or cannellini will also work. I haven’t tried chickpeas, but I assume they will work as well.
  • Spinach: For more green, I like chopped spinach in this pesto orzo, added right at the end to melt into the dish. Chopped kale could also work.

How to Make Pesto Orzo

Cook the Onion

Chopped Onion In A Saute Pan

Heat the olive oil and cook the onion and garlic until softened.

Add the orzo, broth and pesto

Pesto Orzo Recipe

Stir in the orzo, broth, and pesto. Cover and cook until the orzo is tender, stirring often.

Add the beans, lemon, and cheese

Pesto Orzo

Add in the beans, lemon juice and spinach and stir until just wilted. Off heat, stir in the cheese. Season to taste and enjoy.

Recipe Substitutions

The spinach adds in a nice texture and additional vegetable serving for this pesto orzo recipe. You can omit if desired. Or, you can sub in another chopped green, like kale.

The white beans add additional fiber and protein, but they can also be omitted if desired.

You can use other pesto, like a sundried tomato pesto or another pesto. As long as you like the taste of the pesto, it should work in this recipe!

Pesto Orzo Pasta Recipe

Tips for Success

Make sure to stir the pesto every few minutes while cooking so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. If the orzo seems dry, make sure to add in additional broth.

For a vegan recipe, use a vegan pesto and dairy-free parmesan cheese, either store-bought or homemade vegan parmesan.

For an extra creamy pesto orzo, I like to stir in a little coconut milk, heavy cream, or cashew cream before serving.

Bowl Of Vegetarian Pesto Pasta
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Pesto Orzo Recipe

Pesto Orzo with White Beans

  • Author: Alexandra Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, pasta, pesto, one pot
  • Method: stove top, one pot
  • Cuisine: American, Italian Inspired
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

A one-pot dinner! Creamy pesto orzo with white beans, spinach, and parmesan cheese. A simple kid-friendly dinner ready in just 30 minutes.


  • Author: Alexandra Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, pasta, pesto, one pot
  • Method: stove top, one pot
  • Cuisine: American, Italian Inspired
  • Diet: Vegetarian
  • Author: Alexandra Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, pasta, pesto, one pot
  • Method: stove top, one pot
  • Cuisine: American, Italian Inspired
  • Diet: Vegetarian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 3 cups low-sodium broth
  • 1 cup pesto (homemade pesto or store-bought)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed (navy, great northern, cannellini)
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 1/2 small lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (or vegan parmesan)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir until just combined about 30 seconds. Add in red pepper flakes, if using. 
  2. Add in the orzo, broth, and pesto and stir to combine. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until orzo is tender, stirring occasionally, about 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Stir in the beans, spinach and lemon juice until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Taste, adding salt/pepper as desired. Depending on the pesto and broth you use, you may not need additional salt. Serve immediately. 

Notes

*For an extra creamy pesto orzo, stir in 1/4 cup heavy cream or cashew cream before serving. 

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Chef, and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Barbara
      February 13, 2024 AT 8:48 pm

      Alex,I’ve read the directions several times and don’t see where the bean sare added. Arlso are they to be drained and rinsed?

      1. Alex
        February 13, 2024 AT 9:04 pm

        Ah! Yes— just added it. Drained, rinsed and added with the spinach and lemon juice. Ok to add them earlier if you wanted but since they are fully cooked, they really just need to be warmed through.

    2. Joyce
      February 10, 2024 AT 3:49 pm

      I followed the directions! It is delicious. As orzo is cooking, lift lid and stir often, as parm cheese gets sticky on the bottom of the pan.






      1. Alex
        February 10, 2024 AT 5:07 pm

        Thanks for the feedback, Joyce! Yes, I usually remove from heat before I add in the parm because I hate when it sticks to the pan too!

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