Orzo with Fresh Tomato Sauce


Here’s a very quick recipe you can make as a side from Cuisine Rapide, the wonderful cookbook from the 1980’s. The whole thing can be done quickly while other things are simmering, or sautéing, or resting. It’s light and refreshing. Just don’t overdo the garlic. If you are not familiar with orzo, it is this nice little rice shaped pasta, that you might have encountered in the Greek soup, Avgolemono. You can find it in the pasta aisle of most stores, and if they don’t have it, shun that store. The instructions are simple. First thing, put some water in the pot and bring it to a boil. While it is heating up, dice the tomatoes, the garlic, and chop the parsley or basil, and set it all aside. 

Cuisine Rapide Book Cover

The recipe calls for peeling the tomatoes, which would involve blanching them first, but I never do that. Wouldn’t hurt, but it would add a few minutes to the dish, and I’m generally preparing this in a massive hurry. 


When the water reaches a boil, dump the orzo into the pot and stir once or twice while boiling it for 10 minutes. Do not overcook the orzo. When your 10 minute timer goes off pour the orzo into a strainer, and then put it back in the pot, off of the heat. But during that 10 minutes, heat some olive oil in a small pan, until it is shimmering, on medium heat – not high, because you are going to add the garlic and you don’t want it to brown. Add the garlic, and cook for about thirty seconds or so to get the raw taste calmed down a bit. Add the tomatoes to the pan, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a little bit of red pepper flakes. 

Parsley Chopped
Tomatoes and Garlic

Then just drain the orzo and add it to the pan, or the contents of the pan to the orzo (which I find easier), and mix in the shredded basil or parsley. When it is time to eat, a minute stirred on the stove right before serving is fine to bring it back up to temperature.

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Orzo with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Orzo with Fresh Tomato Sauce


A light and summery side dish that takes just a few minutes to prepare.



Salt to taste

3⁄4 cup orzo

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1⁄2 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled (if you want) and cut into 1⁄2 inch cubes. 

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons loosely packed shredded fresh basil or Italian parsley 


  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pot, and add some salt to taste. 
  • Add the orzo, and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Do not overcook. 
  • While the orzo is cooking, heat some oil in a small pan on medium heat, and add the garlic. 
  • Stir it for about 30 seconds, but DO NOT BROWN IT. 
  • Add the tomatoes and sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and the red pepper flakes. 
  • Stir it, and bring it to a boil. 
  • When the 10 minute timer goes off, strain the orzo, and put it back into the pot. 
  • Add the orzo to the basil or parsley and tomato mixture and stir.
  • Serve as a side.

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