Disappearing Dairy-Free Zucchini Orzo for a Side or One-Dish Meal


Are you looking for a delicious way to use up some large, end-of-summer zucchinis? This Disappearing Dairy-Free Zucchini Orzo is one of my favorite ways to do so.

I first tried this recipe years ago when I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The book is an account of her family’s decision to eat as locally as possible for one year. They used foods from their farm and other purely local sources. Each section has seasonal recipes that make the most of foods available during different months of the year. I have this dairy-free zucchini orzo on repeat in late summer and early fall, when my garden and our local markets overflow with summer squash.

Disappearing Dairy-Free Zucchini Orzo Recipe - plant-based, vegan-friendly, allergy-friendly options. Great side or one-dish meal!

This Dairy-Free Zucchini Orzo will Disappear the Second it Hits the Table

Fortunately, it was very easy to make this wonderful recipe both dairy free and vegan. I also added a little more seasoning and increased the cooking time. Cooking the vegetables for a little longer really hides them! I also recommend heavily salting the pasta cooking water. The saltiness of the orzo helps replace the saltiness of Parmesan.

The original recipe calls for thyme and oregano, but my family prefers marjoram instead of oregano. I have a hard time finding marjoram in my local stores, so I often order it online. I also added some black pepper and nutritional yeast for a more cheesy flavor. Using just a touch of nutritional yeast doesn’t overwhelm the flavor – even for picky taste buds!

This Disappearing Dairy-Free Zucchini Orzo is a versatile side dish that goes with lots of main dishes. With the addition of sliced chicken breast or your favorite vegan protein, it can even make an easy one-dish meal.

Disappearing Dairy-Free Zucchini Orzo Recipe - plant-based, vegan-friendly, allergy-friendly options. Great side or one-dish meal!

Special Diet Notes: Disappearing Dairy-Free Zucchini Orzo

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.

I haven’t tried making this recipe with gluten-free orzo, but I know DeLallo Gluten-Free Orzo is a good variety.

Disappearing Dairy-Free Zucchini Orzo
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This delicious recipe is adapted from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara and Camille Kingsolver. Unlike their recipe, I skip the parmesan (it isn't missed!), but do add more seasonings for a very light hint of cheesiness.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
  • 1 pound orzo pasta (see Special Diet notes above for gluten-free)
  • Salt, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small to medium onion, chopped
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 zucchini (approximately 2 pounds), shredded with a box grater or mandolin
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
  • ¼ teaspoon dried black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  1. Boil a large pot of heavily-salted water.
  2. When the water comes to a boil, cook the orzo until al dente, approximately 8 to 12 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini and sauté until it has collapsed and is golden in color, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the oregano or marjoram, thyme, and black pepper.
  6. Remove the vegetables from the heat, and stir in the orzo.
  7. Stir in the nutritional yeast and salt, to taste.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  9. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 2 days, if you have any!

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About Author

Sarah is the Associate Editor for Go Dairy Free. Her previous experience includes work as a copy editor at Thoroughbred Times magazine, a content writer at Travelago.com, and an intern at Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Sarah was a 'mom blogger' for many years but now mostly hangs out on Go Dairy Free and Instagram.

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