You already know I feel very passionate about orzo pasta, and today I want to talk to you about orzotto. And my cherry tomato orzotto recipe, in particular.

While I’m a big fan of risotto, and do also often make these as an easy weeknight meal, the orzotto is even easier to prepare, and arguably just as delicious.

Orzo pasta

Orzo, risoni, or puntalette, is a rice-shaped pasta that is mostly used in Italian soups and broths, but because of its size and shape, is also perfect to use as the star ingredient in a risotto-inspired orzotto!

I used to bring back this pasta from my trips to Italy, though it’s become so hugely popular that you will now find it in any large supermarket in most countries. It’s also great to use as the base for more delicate pasta salads.

Uncooked rice-shaped orzo pasta, risoni pasta, puntalette pasta

How to cook an orzotto

Orzotto is a true one-pot wonder, and its preparation is very similar to risotto. Start by frying some onions, add some garlic, tomato paste and some fresh sweet cherry tomatoes, before you tip in the uncooked orzo pasta. Just like with risotto, you fry this for a few minutes, the orzo will toast ever so slightly and go somewhat translucent.

There’s however one big point of difference in the preparation, which also happens to be the reason why an orzotto is so incredibly easy to prepare. You add all the liquid at once. That’s right, all stock goes into the pan in one go.

No need to continuously stir, or slowly add the stock a ladle at a time, like you would with a regular risotto. This is why my impatient self has fallen in love with the orzotto, and what makes it such an excellent weeknight dinner or quick lunch recipe.

The tomato sauce

Too often I see risotto and orzotto recipes that use chopped tomatoes, passata or other tomato sauces, and in my opinion, this doesn’t work very well at all. It’s very hard for orzo pasta to absorb these thick liquids and ultimately, your just looking for a result that is far more delicate than something covered in a thick and chunky sauce.

Instead, I use deliciously sweet fresh cherry tomatoes, a small amount of tomato paste, and vegetable stock. Once the orzo is cooked, add a knob of unsalted butter and a healthy amount of parmesan cheese, stir until melted and let everything emulsify into a delicious, creamy, silky sauce, that feels both rich and light at the same time.

While I religiously cook any other pasta al dente, in an orzotto I love cooking the pasta all the way through. The result, together with the creamy sauce, is something so gorgeous and elegant and every bite just melts on your tong. The ultimate comfort food!


Cherry Tomato Orzotto Recipe

  • Author: Michiel Steur
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Rice-shaped orzo pasta is the star ingredient in this quick and easy vegetarian cherry tomato ‘orzotto’, a great alternative take on risotto.



  • 335g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1.5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 280g orzo pasta
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 50g parmesan cheese
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat the vegetable stock.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large, deep non-stick frying pan. Add onion and fry until soft and translucent, approximately 8 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste, stir well and cook until darkened slightly, approximately 3-4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the halved cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring often, for a few minutes until the tomatoes have started to soften.
  5. Add the uncooked orzo pasta, stir well, and cook for about two minutes.
  6. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and leave to simmer until the orzo pasta is cooked and all liquid has been absorbed, approximately 15 minutes. Unlike with risotto, you can add all the stock at once and there’s no need to stir constantly, though do make sure to stir occasionally, especially towards the end of the cooking time. Orzo pasta can be quite sticky so you’ll want to avoid it sticking to the bottom of your pan.
  7. Reduce heat to low, add butter and cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.


For a delicious non-vegetarian variation, you can use vegetable stock instead.

I like my orzotto super soft, but if you prefer a firmer bite, start by adding 750ml of the vegetable stock and gradually add more until you have reached your desired texture.

  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Calories: 472
  • Sugar: 6.7g
  • Sodium: 1,885.6mg
  • Fat: 19.4g
  • Saturated Fat: 8.4g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 5.8g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 59g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 15.1g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: tomato orzo pasta, tomato orzotto recipe, cherry tomato orzo, tomato and cheese orzo, one-pan orzo dish

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