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lemony herb “orzotto” with garlicky chickpeas

by Jackie Newgent  |  February 7, 2021  |  4 Comments

lemony herb “orzotto” with garlicky chickpeas and zucchini

This 100% plant-based, lemony herb “orzotto” with garlicky chickpeas is the perfect dish for any day of the year, including World Pulses Day (which is Feb 10th, by the way). It features my favorite pulse … chickpeas. What’s your fave? I’m a big, big, BIG fan of chickpeas (and all other pulses, for that matter!) since they’ve got the trifecta of good tasting + good for you + good for the planet! And they’re extra tasty when served in this “orzotto” recipe.

So, what does “orzotto” mean? Traditional orzotto is like Italian risotto, but prepared with pearl barley rather than arborio rice. I went “off script” and based mine on a combination of orzo and chickpeas for my loose interpretation on it. And I pumped it up with veggies. It’s easier to fix than risotto. And once you have all ingredients pre-prepped, the recipe comes together really quickly!

I’m not gonna lie … this “orzotto” dish is kinda addictive (in a good way, of course!). You get a bit of everything nice all in one skillet—grains, pulses, veggies, and healthy fat. And it’s got sooo much flavor, especially thanks to the garlic, herb duo (basil + mint), lemon zest, and “nooch” (that’s nutritional yeast flakes). The “nooch” acts like a plant-based alternative to parmesan cheese.

lemony herb “orzotto” with garlicky chickpeas and zucchini

Dive into this lemony herb “orzotto” with garlicky chickpeas as a one-dish meal. (That’s how I do it!) Or, if you prefer, serve it as an exciting side dish. And if you’ve got any left, it’s just as delicious when quickly reheated. Or try it cool as a delightful salad the next day or two or three!

For more recipes featuring orzo, try my orzo, greens & pan-charred corn salad (see recipe HERE), orzo & arugula salad with california prunes (see recipe HERE), or spring “clean” orzo salad (see recipe HERE).

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lemony herb “orzotto” with garlicky chickpeas and zucchini

lemony herb “orzotto” with garlicky chickpeas

  • Author: Jackie Newgent
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: One-Dish Meal
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • Diet: Vegan


This 100% plant-based, lemony herb “orzotto” (which is kind of like an orzo-based risotto!) with garlicky chickpeas is the perfect, anytime, one-dish meal.


  • 1 cup (185 grams) dry orzo, ideally whole-wheat
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil, divided
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (15.5-ounce/439-gram) can organic chickpeas, well-drained
  • 2 large (10-ounce/285-gram each) zucchini, cubed, or veggie of choice
  • 1 1/2 cups (227 grams) grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons (15 grams) nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
  • 1/2 cup packed (12 grams) fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed (8 grams) fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, pan-toasted (optional)


  1. Cook the orzo in (salted) water according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in an extra-large, deep cast iron skillet or a wok, fully heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chickpeas, and zucchini and sauté until the zucchini and chickpeas are caramelized (golden brown), about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper and sauté until the tomatoes are heated through, about 1 minute.
  3. Drain the orzo, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Add the cooked orzo and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the chickpea-veggie mixture and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Add the nutritional yeast flakes, lemon zest, and desired amount of reserved orzo cooking liquid and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in the basil and mint, sprinkle with the pine nuts, if using, and serve.


Hint: For leftovers, try it as a cool salad as is–or with a squirt with juice from the lemon that you zested. Toss in some fresh baby arugula or kale, too. Then call it “vintage” cuisine instead of leftovers!


  • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups each
  • Calories: 430
  • Sugar: 6g includes 0g added sugars
  • Sodium: 780mg
  • Fat: 13g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.5g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 65g
  • Fiber: 10g
  • Protein: 17g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: orzotto, orzo, one-dish meal, plant-based, chickpeas, garbanzo beans

lemony herb “orzotto” with garlicky chickpeas and zucchini

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