Categories: ItalianSide Dish

Creamy Spinach Parmesan Orzo

What comes to mind when you see or hear the word “Orzo.”

Could it be the 6 Orzo families who were living in New York City (USA) in the 1920’s.

Or could it be Caffè d’orzo – a type of hot drink, originating in Italy.

Caffè d’orzo or Barley Coffee

Most of us though think of the small, rice-shaped pasta that is traditionally used in soups or salads. 

Orzo is a very versatile pasta that has been widely adapted by chefs in Italy and America for both main courses, as well as side dishes, including soups and pasta salads.

Though it originated in Italy – Orzo has been used in multiple cuisines such as Greek, Turkish and Spanish for centuries.

Isn’t Orzo Actually a Form of Rice

Simply put, Rice is rice, while orzo is rice-shaped pasta.

Rice and orzo share characteristics, but the two foods are not identical or the same.

Both rice and orzo are versatile and interchangeable.

Orzo can be used in place of rice to make a Pilaf or orzo can be a replacement to make a Risotto.

Chicken and Pumpkin Orzotto

Creamy Spinach Parmesan Orzo

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups dried orzo pasta

2 cups 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

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Next, 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.

Next, 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.

Next add the spinach and Parmesan and stir in 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.

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