Roasted Veggies with Orzo Pasta

Many years ago, before we even started dating, Aaron convinced me to come over for dinner. Originally, he was going to cook Thai, but I have a soy allergy and don’t like to eat Asian food cooked by others unless I know them really well. So, finding out I love Greek food, he changed the menu. One of the dishes was a recipe inspired by The Barefoot Contessa. That just might have been the recipe that won my heart. Over the years we have continued to tweak it and we feel that this Roasted Veggies with Orzo Pasta has reached perfection.

closeup of roasted veggies with orzo pasta ready to eat

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How does this relate to camping? Sometimes the fire doesn’t cooperate. The wood might be too green, or completely sold out for miles around the campground. (Yes, this has happened to us.) You might have forgotten the chimney for starting the fire. (Yes, we have made this mistake.) Or there might be a fire ban going on and you don’t have an alternative. This is why we like to have some foods that work well cold. Roasted Veggies with Orzo Pasta is one such dish.

What we love about Roasted Veggies with Orzo Pasta:

  • It’s a make ahead recipe
  • We get veggies while camping
  • Can be a side dish or the main meal

The Ingredients for the Veggies:

  • Bell peppers (go for an assortment of colors)
  • Red onions (yes please)
  • Garlic (of course)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (definitely necessary)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

The Ingredients for the Salad:

  • Orzo pasta (ready to cook)
  • Lemons (for juicing)
  • Scallions or Green onions (minced)
  • Pignolis or pine nuts (toasted)
  • Feta cheese (crumbled)
  • Fresh Basil (chiffonaded)
colorful bell peppers in a strainer
three red onions on butcher block
diced peppers and onions with garlic and seasoning

The Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the bell peppers, onions, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large roasting sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, or until vegetables have softened and are browned.
  2. Towards the end of your roasting time, cook the orzo pasta according to the instructions. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
peppers and onions with garlic and seasoning after roasting
closeup of roasted veggies with orzo pasta ready to eat
cooked orzo pasta with roasted veggies
orange bowl filled with pasta salad and spoon
  1. Add the roasted vegetables, along with their juices and seasonings to the serving bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Squeeze the lemon juice over the pasta, add in the scallions, pignolis, and feta, then stir to combine again. Check seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
  4. Put into a camping friendly container and store in the refrigerator until time to go.
  5. When it is time to eat, sprinkle reserved basil over the top and serve.

FAQ and How to Customize Roasted Veggies with Orzo Pasta:

Q. What other veggies do you suggest for roasting?

A. The original recipe includes eggplant which some people love to include. Green and yellow squash are another option. Sweet vegetables such as carrots are good. And we can also recommend mushrooms. I would avoid cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower for this recipe, even though we love them roasted as well.

Q. Does it need to be orzo pasta?

A. No it doesn’t. We love the shape of orzo and how it works with vegetables, feta, and other ingredients. But any small pasta such as ditalini or orecchiette work if they are what you have available. Or, if you are trying to avoid pasta, you can use different types of rice such as arborio or short grain brown rice. Some people also recommend couscous and quinoa, both of which we love, but not in this recipe.

Q. We don’t like feta. Is there another option?

A. Of course! You can choose to leave the cheese out completely or you can substitute another cheese such as (well-drained) cottage cheese, goat cheese, or cotija. Other easy to find options include block cheddar and mozzarella.

Q. What would you serve with this dish?

A. Honestly, I’ve been known to make an entire meal just from this dish. However, for those of you who want something additional, may I suggest some nice warm pita bread (if the fire is already going)? If you are looking for something a little more substantial, try some sort of sandwich such as the pressed picnic sandwich or some pinwheel sandwiches. Both of those are cold though and I can only imagine how tasty a nice warm panini would be with this salad if you can figure out a way to make one camping. I can taste one inspired by the caprese flavors of basil, tomato, and mozzarella already.

Q. We want to add meat. What do you suggest?

A. We’ve never added meat but now I’m interested. Since this is a Mediterranean inspired dish my first suggestion would be thinly sliced grilled lamb. We love to eat lamb in our house. However, we know that many other people do not like the taste so for them we recommend bite sized pieces of grilled chicken. If you try this, let us know how it goes!

Equipment Needed:

This one doesn’t require any specialized equipment outside of a normal kitchen. You will want an oven to roast your vegetables. You will want a stovetop to boil your pasta. A bowl for mixing everything will be required. But as long as you make this in advance at home, you should be good to go.

More Make Ahead Recipes to Enjoy:

A Pasta Salad Suitable for Camping

When we go camping in the RV, as opposed to the tent, we like to vary up the menu a bit and take foods that would not work well without refrigeration. This light tasting roasted veggies with orzo pasta salad fits that bill with its roasted vegetables, lemony dressing, and crumbled feta cheese. My mouth waters just thinking about eating this all year round. If you make it, tag us on Instagram @campinganswer and tell us what you think. And if you have any other tasty salads we should try while camping, please let us know!

Excuse me while I go roast some more vegetables and make another batch…

Roasted Veggies with Orzo Pasta

this pasta dish is great for camping, filling and flavorful
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Resting Time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs 30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: make-ahead, orzo, vegetarian, veggies
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 red bell peppers diced
  • 2 orange bell peppers diced
  • 2 yellow bell peppers diced
  • 3 red onions diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb orzo pasta
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 scallions minced
  • 1/4 cup pignolis toasted
  • 3/4 lb crumbled feta
  • 15 fresh basil leaves cut into chiffonade

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the bell peppers, onions, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large roasting sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, or until vegetables have softened and are browned.
  • Towards the end of your roasting time, cook the orzo pasta according to the instructions. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  • Add the roasted vegetables, along with their juices and seasonings to the serving bowl and stir to combine.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Squeeze the lemon juice over the pasta, add in the scallions, pignolis, and feta, then stir to combine again. Check seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
  • Put into a camping friendly container and store in the refrigerator until time to go.
  • When it is time to eat, sprinkle reserved basil over the top and serve.

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