Kitchn Love Letters

The Supremely Satisfying One-Pot Orzo That Never Lets Me Down

published Apr 25, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

In my opinion, having a rotating list of a few go-to side dishes is crucial for stress-free dinners. In my family, that list consists of frozen take-and-bake French dinner rolls, Trader Joes’ microwaveable rice pouches, a leafy green salad, and roasted green beans. No matter what we’re making for dinner, chances are one of those sides can round out the meal.

But if we never switched it up, it’d get a little boring, right? That’s why I have a few favorite recipes I like to throw in the mix just often enough that they still feel special every time we make them. At the top of this list is Sheela’s creamy spinach orzo.

This easy orzo looks like risotto, tastes like stovetop mac and cheese, and is practically as quick as the frozen TJ’s rice. My family often serves it with grilled shrimp or fish, but meat-eaters could pair it with roasted chicken or pork chops. The simple ingredient list means I usually already have everything I need to make it, even if it wasn’t part of my initial dinner plan. And every single time, it’s always the best part of the meal.

Credit: Grace Elkus

3 Tips for the Best One-Pot Orzo

  1. Don’t skimp on the onion, garlic, and spinach. Because I’m currently only cooking for three, I always cut this recipe in half. But in an attempt to pack in as much flavor as possible, I like to keep the amount of onion, garlic, and spinach the same. If you’re cooking the recipe as-is, I would recommend doubling those ingredients.
  2. Season generously with salt. Be sure to season the orzo from the get-go, and then taste and season again just before serving. The amount you need will vary depending on the saltiness of your broth, and how much Parmesan you add. But you will likely need more than you think!
  3. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Because this orzo simmers in a covered pot, your instinct might be to walk away and only return when the timer goes off. But as the orzo cooks, it releases starch, which helps thicken the creamy sauce. But that also means that if left undisturbed, it will stick to the bottom of the pot. To prevent this, lift the lid and stir at least three times during cooking.

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.