Creamy Lemon Orzo Pasta with Corn comes together easily in one pan. With bright flavors, hearty corn, and creamy melted parmesan, this flavorful side dish pairs perfectly with all of your weeknight dinners.Jump to Recipe
Easy creamy lemon orzo recipe
Can you believe how simple this Creamy Lemon Orzo Pasta with Corn is? Made with a handful of simple ingredients, every bite is super creamy and savory while the corn gives it a hearty texture. It’s great when you need a satisfying and last-minute side dish for dinner!
Orzo pasta is a great Italian pasta to use in side dishes but it’s just as good in One Pot Chicken Dinners or as a replacement for rice in Lemon Risotto. In this easy Italian side dish, I cooked the pasta with corn, fresh lemon juice and zest, and grated parmesan. The finished result is so creamy, vibrant, and completely satisfying.
Serve this lemony orzo side dish next to all of your Italian and Mediterranean favorites, like Vinegar Chicken with Olives or Pan-Seared Lemon Butter Scallops.
What is orzo?
Orzo pasta looks just like rice! Also called risoni, orzo pasta is traditionally used in soups but can be used anywhere you normally use rice or regular pasta noodles. It’s actually a great alternative to rice because it cooks in half the time!
Lemon orzo ingredients
- Orzo pasta – Orzo tastes just like regular pasta noodles because it’s made with the same ingredients. With its rice-like shape, this tiny pasta is perfect for quick side dishes with other bite-sized ingredients like corn or asparagus.
- Corn – You can use a fresh ear of corn or frozen corn for a quick and easy solution.
- Lemon – You’ll need fresh lemon zest and juice to give this creamy pasta its signature bright and citrus flavor.
- Parmesan cheese – Instead of stirring cream or milk into this creamy orzo pasta, I added freshly grated parmesan cheese. The cheese will melt when it hits the heat and make the pasta extra creamy and just a touch salty.
- Basil – For a beautiful pop of green!
How to make lemon orzo pasta with corn
- Saute the onion: Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onion until it’s soft and fragrant.
- Toast the orzo: Add the orzo pasta, corn, and remaining butter into the pan for a few minutes. This will give the orzo a deep, nutty flavor.
- Cook the pasta: Pour the water into the skillet and let the mixture simmer until the orzo is soft.
- Make it creamy: Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice, parmesan cheese, and some of the basil. Adjust the seasonings to your taste, then serve in bowls with more basil and parmesan on top. Enjoy!
Creamy lemon orzo is typically served as a side dish, but you can always transform it into a filling main by adding in extra veggies or protein, such as:
- Protein – Chicken, salmon, shrimp, crispy bacon, or steak would all be delicious additions.
- Vegetables – Add spinach, shredded zucchini, green beans, roasted cherry tomatoes, peas, or baked asparagus to the orzo.
- Garnish – Add fresh dill, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, a dollop of pesto on each bowl for extra freshness.
What to serve with lemon orzo
This citrusy and hearty orzo side dish is delicious next to Italian mains, like a Caprese Chicken Bake, Baked Salmon with Gremolata, and Grilled Skirt Steak and Burrata.
Are you feeling a little more creative? Use the lemon orzo inside of stuffed bell peppers, mixed with leafy greens in a salad, or serve it cold with a piece of focaccia for a flavorful and filling weekday lunch.
Storing and reheating leftovers
To store, keep the cooked and cooled leftover orzo in a sealed container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
To reheat, add the leftovers to a skillet over medium heat with a little water until it’s warmed through.
More easy side dishes
If you try this Creamy Lemon Orzo Pasta with Corn recipe, let me know what you think! Rate and review this recipe in the comments below. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog!
Creamy Lemon Orzo Pasta with Corn
- 1 cup orzo pasta
- 1 ear corn husks removed and shucked
- ½ medium onion finely chopped
- 1 lemon zested
- ½ lemon juiced
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter divided
- 2 cups parmesan cheese grated
- 3 cups water
- 2 ½ tsp kosher salt more to taste if needed
- 4-6 tbsp basil finely chopped
- Chop onion and saute with 2 tablespoons of butter for 5 minutes on medium heat in a deep skillet or pot.
- Add 1 cup of orzo pasta, corn, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and cook for an additional 5 minutes to toast the pasta, stirring often. This will give the orzo a deep, nutty flavor.
- Add water and cook on medium low heat uncovered. Simmer 8-10 minutes until the orzo is al dente, stirring often. It should become very creamy.
- Turn off heat, add lemon zest and juice, and parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Taste for salt.
- Divide the orzo among bowls and top with remaining fresh basil and add additional parmesan, if desired.
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