Manestra is a Greek orzo dish cooked into a delicious tomato sauce that's comfort food at its best. Ready in just 30 minutes, this manestra recipe makes a perfect lunch or even a light dinner.
If you love orzo dishes, you’re bound to fall in love with this Greek orzo recipe.
Manestra is a traditional one-pot Greek dish typically made with fresh tomatoes when in season. It’s just as good with canned tomatoes, though, which makes it a budget-friendly recipe.
I typically have all the ingredients for manestra in the house at all times, so this is something I can whip up on those busy days when I need to have a meal ready quickly.
Manestra is something between a risotto and a soup — it’s made with orzo pasta instead of rice and can have more or less liquid.
In typical Greek manner, manestra is served with loads of crumbled feta on top. However, this is a naturally vegan recipe, and the feta is optional (or you can substitute it with a plant-based alternative).
Why you’ll love this manestra recipe
- It’s a budget-friendly recipe made with pantry staples.
- You’d be surprised at the rich flavour of such a simple dish!
- It only takes 30 minutes to make and you can serve it as a main or a side dish.
What goes into Greek manestra
Olive oil — Extra virgin olive oil is essential for this recipe because it sets out the flavour base.
Red onion — You can also use yellow onion or shallots in this dish.
Garlic — Freshly chopped garlic is always best in this type of recipe.
Red chilli flakes — Feel free to add more red chilli flakes if you want your manestra to have a bit of a kick.
Tomato paste — A tablespoon of tomato paste will enhance the flavour of diced or fresh tomatoes.
Dry red wine — This is optional, but I highly recommend you add a splash of red wine for a rich flavour.
Orzo — Even though it looks like rice, orzo is actually pasta. The Greek version is called “kritharaki,” but you can use regular Italian orzo in this recipe as it’s readily available.
Chopped tomatoes — Both canned and fresh tomatoes are perfect for manestra. If using fresh tomatoes, make sure they’re very ripe.
Sugar — You’ll need just a teaspoon of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and get a more balanced sauce.
How to make manestra
Stir in the garlic and red chilli flakes and continue to cook for another minute.
Add the tomato paste, cook for a further minute and then add the red wine. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the alcohol evaporates, then stir in the orzo. Toast it for 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
Next, add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, sugar and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the orzo is tender. Add a bit more vegetable stock or water if it looks too thick.
Season to taste and serve immediately with crumbled feta on top if you like.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days in an air-tight container.
- You can reheat manestra on the stovetop on in the microwave. You may need to add some extra veggie stock when reheating because the orzo will continue to soak up the liquid.
- Manestra can be frozen for up to 1-2 months in an airtight container. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Recipe notes and tips
- Add half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and/or dried mint for an extra flavourful sauce.
- If you want your manestra to be more like a soup, add more vegetable stock or water.
- Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil on individual bowls before serving.
If you liked this manestra recipe, you might also like some of my other recipes with orzo:
- Meatball Stew with Orzo and White Beans
- Creamy Lemon Garlic Orzo with Prawns
- Italian Sausage Soup with Orzo and Kale
- Orzo Pasta Salad with Feta, Kalamata Olives and Wild Rocket
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 75 ml (⅓ cup) dry red wine
- 250 g (8.8 oz) orzo
- 1 x 400 g (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
- ½ tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan and sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until softened.
- Stir in the garlic and red chilli flakes and continue to cook for another minute.
- Add the tomato paste, cook for a further minute and then add the red wine. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the alcohol evaporates, then stir in the orzo. Toast it for 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
- Next, add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, sugar and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the orzo is tender. Add a bit more vegetable stock or water if it looks too thick.
- Season to taste and serve immediately with crumbled feta on top if you like.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 270Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 492mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 7g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.