One-Pot Spinach Orzo with Parmesan

updated Sep 8, 2022
Creamy Spinach Parmesan Orzo

A recipe for quick and easy creamy orzo pasta made with spinach and Parmesan cheese. It's a perfect vegetarian dinner or simple side side.

Serves4 to 8

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

While practically all pasta dishes can be deemed “family-friendly,” this one might just win the prize. I think it has something to do with the way orzo is so fun for everyone at the table. Maybe it’s because of its cute, rice-like shape or how quickly it cooks. Regardless, it’s a fast-cooking favorite for weeknight ease, and a great vehicle for handfuls of spinach.

Turn that orzo into a one-pot meal, where the liquid it’s cooked in becomes a ridiculously creamy sauce before baby spinach and Parmesan are stirred in. What you have is a dinner that’s guaranteed a recurring spot on your weekly meal plan. So you should pencil it in right away.

The Pasta Shape That Makes One-Pot Dinners Easier (and Better)

Since orzo is so quick-cooking, it’s a perfect choice for a one-pot dinner. It will cook up fast in a simmering pot of chicken or vegetable broth and milk, and the starch that leaches out of the pasta actually helps to thicken the creamy sauce. There’s little work required of you, besides stirring in a few big handfuls of roughly chopped spinach (chopped so that it wilts extra fast, or frozen for real convenience) and plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.

It’s a dish that’s reminiscent of stovetop mac and cheese — thanks to just the right amount of ooey, gooey-ness going on — but feels a bit more wholesome with those flecks of green shining through. I like it best enjoyed as a main dish, but if you’re looking to stretch the pot, it also makes for a nice bed for roasted shrimp or pan-seared salmon. It also works well as a perfect side dish for roasted chicken or pork chops. Either way, I feel confident you can’t go wrong.

More One-Pot Orzo Dinners We Love

Creamy Spinach Parmesan Orzo

A recipe for quick and easy creamy orzo pasta made with spinach and Parmesan cheese. It's a perfect vegetarian dinner or simple side side.

Serves 4 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1

    small yellow onion, diced

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 1 pound

    dried orzo pasta (about 2 1/2 cups)

  • 2 cups

    low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

  • 2 cups

    whole milk

  • 2 cups

    packed baby spinach, coarsely chopped

  • 1 cup

    freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and orzo, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  2. Stir in the broth and milk and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed and has formed a creamy sauce, about 10 minutes or according to package instructions. (If the orzo isn’t completely cooked once this has happened, you can add another splash or two of broth to the pot and continue to simmer until it has.)

  3. Stir in the spinach and Parmesan until the spinach has just wilted and the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with additional cheese if desired.

Recipe Notes

Substitute frozen spinach: To substitute frozen spinach, thaw 12 ounces spinach in a colander while cooking the orzo. Stir and press out any liquid you can, then stir the partially-thawed spinach directly into the orzo with the Parmesan. Stir and heat until the spinach is fully incorporated.

Add chicken: If you want to add meat to this dish, top with shredded chicken from a rotisserie chicken (or canned chicken).

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 days.