Super easy Mediterranean-style orzo recipe with zucchini and chickpeas in a tasty, chunky, garlicy tomato sauce! Fresh mint and toasted pine nuts are the perfect finish. I like to serve this as a simple vegan main, but it makes a great side to Garlic Dijon chicken; lemon chicken; lamb chops; or this tasty baked fish.

Step-by-step tutorial included below. Use whole wheat orzo, if you're on a more strict Mediterranean diet.

Mediterranean Orzo Recipe with Zucchini and Chickpeas

I remember the first time I made this recipe was totally on a whim and out of sheer need for a quick dinner. I had run out of time that day, and didn't have much in the fridge or pantry.

One giant zucchini from my friend Wendy's garden sat on the counter, and I decided it would have to be dinner. Rummaging through my pantry, I came out with some orzo pasta, a can of chickpeas, and some canned diced tomatoes. And so this easy vegetarian orzo recipe was born.

Like my creamy garlicky version, this delicious Mediterranean orzo recipe is perfect for a vegetarian main or side dish. And you'll see how easy it is to make in the step-by-step tutorial below.

Orzo with zucchini, chickpeas, and tomatoes. Garnished with fresh mint and toasted pine nuts

What is Orzo?

Maybe all pasta is deemed easy and family friendly, but for some reason, orzo pasta is one that totally seems to appease my family, and so I always add it to my shopping list.

If you're not familiar, orzo is a tiny rice-shaped pasta. Rice and orzo are not the same (if you're curious, check out the differences here). But, orzo is quick-cooking and super versatile, it can really be a life-saver in the kitchen. Here are just 3 orzo ideas for you, if you have not already seen them on the blog before...

Easy Orzo Recipes

1- Plain orzo makes the perfect bed to a saucy shrimp dish like this one.

2- Throw orzo in your soup the last few minutes of cooking; this Mediterranean shrimp orzo soup is a big fan favorite!

3- And if you want a hearty Greek-style dinner (the Yiayia-approved kind), make this easy baked chicken orzo

Ingredients for orzo recipe. zucchini, chickpeas, tomatoes, orzo, fresh mint, garlic and toasted pine nuts

Mediterranean Orzo Recipe with Zucchini and Chickpeas

Any of the above orzo ideas are so worth trying! But today is all about this vegetarian orzo recipe with zucchini and chickpeas.

In this recipe, zucchini and chickpeas are cooked in a chunky, garlicy tomato sauce. Cooked orzo is added last-minute. We finish with a splash of lemon juice and a generous handful of fresh mint. If mint is not available to you, feel free to use parsley or basil, either will be great here.

I know I say in the recipe that toasted pine nuts are optional. They are expensive, but if you do have some, they totally add another layer of texture and nutty flavor that I really appreciate here.

Vegetarian Orzo Bowl

Step-by-Step for How to Make This Orzo Recipe

1. Start by making the pasta in salted boiling water according to package. Mine took about 9 minutes or so to cook. Reserve about ½ cup of the boiling water and drain the orzo. Set aside for now.Cooked Plain Orzo

2. Saute zucchini in extra virgin olive oil for about 5 minutes or so until softened (a large braiser or deep heavy pan like this one works great!)

Sauteed zucchini in extra virgin olive oil

3. Add garlic (lots of it), tomatoes, chickpeas and spices (black pepper, paprika, coriander and cumin.) Add the little bit of pasta cooking water that you reserved earlier. Garlic, chickpeas, tomatoes and spices are added to skillet

3. (continued) Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then turn heat to low/medium-low, cover and let simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes or so. (You're looking for everything to soften and the flavors to develop.)

Simmered zucchini, chickpeas and tomatoes for orzo recipe

4. Add cooked pasta to the chunky mixture of zucchini, chickpeas and tomato sauce. Stir in lemon juice. Off heat, add fresh mint and, if you like, toasted pine nuts. Enjoy!

Orzo with zucchini, Chickpeas and Tomatoes. Garnished with mint and pine nuts

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Orzo with zucchini, chickpeas, and tomatoes. Garnished with fresh mint and toasted pine nuts

Easy Orzo Recipe with Zucchini and Chickpeas


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4.9 from 32 reviews

Description

Super easy Mediterranean-style orzo recipe with zucchini and chickpeas in a tasty, garlicy, chunky tomato sauce. Fresh mint and toasted pine nuts are the perfect finishing touch. Serve this as a simple vegetarian main or as a side next to your favorite protein.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 oz orzo pasta
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil (I used Greek Private Reserve)
  • 1 lb zucchini (about 3 medium zucchini), diced
  • 10 to 12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes (or 5 medium tomatoes, diced)
  • 16 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups fully cooked chickpeas)
  • Black pepper
  • ¾ tsp sweet paprika
  • ¾ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 10 fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Toasted pine nuts (I used more than ½ cup), optional

Instructions

  1. Cook orzo pasta according to package instructions (I cooked mine in 3 qt salted boiling water for about 9 minutes). Drain, keeping about ½ cup of the cooking water. Set aside
  2. In a large braiser or heavy pan like this one, heat 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add zucchini; raise heat if needed and saute for about 5 minutes or so. Season with a little salt.
  3. Now add garlic, diced tomatoes, chickpeas, and spices. Add the reserved pasta water. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then lower heat, cover and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or so.  (Occasionally check and stir together, making sure to add a little bit of liquid if needed.)
  4. Uncover, stir in already cooked orzo pasta. Add lemon juice and stir again. Cook briefly until pasta is just warmed trough (a minute or 2.)
  5. Remove from heat and stir in fresh mint. Top with lots of toasted pine nuts. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Cook's Tip for Leftovers: Let any leftovers cool before storing in the fridge in a tight-lid container.  If properly refrigerated, this zucchini orzo dish will keep 3 to 4 days. You can enjoy it cold or at room temperature. You can also warm it up a little bit over medium-heat; add a little a tiny bit of water and break up the pasta, if needed, as it warms through.
  • Use whole wheat orzo pasta, if you are following a more strict Mediterranean diet.
  • Recommended for this Recipe: Our Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives). And from our spice collection: paprika, coriander, and cumin. 
  • Visit our store to browse our spices, olive oils and bundles!
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

*This recipe was recently updated with new information and media for readers' benefit. Enjoy!

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. Toni says:

    This is something I'd love to make again and again!






  2. Chelsea says:

    This is the BEST weeknight dinner! It's sooo easy and flavor packed! We're obsessed! Thanks for sharing!






  3. Denise says:

    This dish looks delicious, and I love that its so easy to make, with ingredients that I usually have at home! Thank you for sharing.






  4. Toni says:

    I loved it! Really amazing and so flavorful!






  5. Sommer says:

    Looks and sounds delicious! Love chickpeas!






  6. Ashley says:

    We love easy weeknight meals in our house and this one is so good! It will be on our dinner rotation often.






    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Yes, Ashley, this a great option for the rotation!

  7. Billy says:

    OMG Suzy, this is incredible. So many amazing flavors in this, and man do I love orzo!






  8. Toni says:

    I loved this! So easy to make and really flavorful!






    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      So glad!

  9. Tanya Schroeder says:

    This is my kind of comfort food!






    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Yay! Enjoy

  10. Liz says:

    Love these Mediterranean flavors! This orzo was delicious with our grilled pork chops! I'll be making it again this summer!!






    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Excellent, Liz! Thanks so much for trying it!

  11. Carol says:

    Are you draining and rinsing the chickpeas if using canned? This, like all of your recipes looks really good and my doctor thanks you.






    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Hi Carol! Great question...sorry I didn't see it sooner. But yes, drain and rinse the canned chickpeas. Thank you!

  12. Jasmine says:

    Suzy - Our dinner last night was made based on your recipe, it came out really good. I added the uncooked orzo (about one cup) to the mixture, some water and simmered the whole thing together with the lid on. It was delicious, nutritious and very simple. Thanks Suzy.






    1. CS Odeen says:

      Thank you so much for your note about making this a 1-pot meal, with the addition of extra water!!! Turned our awesome, pasta absorbing the excess liquid from the veggies cooking down!! 🙂 Thanks again!!






      1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

        Glad you enjoyed it!

  13. Terry O''Connor says:

    I made this earlier this afternoon....YUM!!! Really delicious
    Thank you for posting this one 🙂






    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Terry, so glad you tried this simple orzo recipe! It's a favorite of mine!

  14. goboroot says:

    Quite often I find myself cooking up one of the best meals on a whim LOL! I wonder my brain tends to focus better when I'm pressed for time? I love the quality of your photography and wish you the best for your blog journey, Suzy!

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Thank you so much for stopping in! Appreciate your comment and your kind support. Here is to the journey!

  15. Beth @ Eat Within Your Means says:

    Your dishes are right up my alley, Suzy! I love this. Will be featuring it my upcoming post about saving money by cooking dried chickpeas! 🙂

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Beth, I'm super glad you like this recipe! It is economical and delicious. Thanks for considering it for a post. You're the best!

  16. Wendy Stertz Liskey says:

    This was super yummy - I got be in on the taste testing too! Great job, Suzy!