This Creamy One Pot Spinach Orzo is better than any boxed pasta side you’ll get at grocery store. It’s easy, full of good-for-you ingredients and will pair perfectly with just about any entrée.
Creamy One Pot Spinach Orzo
Sides – the often forgotten, or haphazardly thrown together element of a meal. A little bit of an unfortunate situation since a well-executed side can really catapult an average meal into something kind of spectacular.
Well, I’m here to shout from the Internet rooftop that our Creamy Spinach Orzo is anything but forgetful and may just be your new go-to side. One that will go deliciously well with our Creamy Chicken with Olive, Creamy Chicken with Olives, or Creamy Chicken with Olives.
As far as sides go, as long as I can remember my guilty pleasure has been those creamy boxed pasta sides you find lurking near the hamburger helper and mac and cheese. Even to this day, I’ll sometimes snatch a box when the husband is out of town, just to have a brush of nostalgia and get my sodium fix in one fail swoop.
It’s been on my agenda for quite some time to try and replicate it at home, but I wanted to make sure I mimicked the flavor and creamy texture while also keeping the preparation just as easy as the boxed version.
And we’ve done it. Our version is made in just one pot, is just as creamy as the boxed version, and infinitely more flavorful. Bonus points for good-for-you ingredients, minimal fat, and ease of preperaiton.
Ingredients in One Pot Spinach Orzo
Butter. I think butter gets a bad rap. Like everything in life and eating, it’s all about moderation. A little bit won’t hurt you! However, if you want to use olive oil or another type of fat, go for it.
Onion + garlic. The simple combination of onion and garlic adds so much flavor to our creamy spinach orzo.
Orzo. We love to use whole-grains when we can, so we went with whole-wheat orzo (this is our favorite brand). We’ve also tried it with regular orzo and it works great as well.
Chicken stock. Always use chicken stock that has a low sodium or no salt added. You want to be able to control the amount of salt going into the orzo.
Cream. Just a little bit of cream is all you need to make the spinach orzo extra creamy and luxurious.
Parmesan. Again, a little goes a long way! We love to use aged parmigiano reggiano food its strong nutty flavor.
Spinach. Gotta sneak those veggies in where you can. We chop up baby spinach and gently stir it in the orzo until it wilts.
How to Make Creamy Spinach Orzo
For maximum flavor, we toast the orzo, onion, and garlic in a touch of butter (or olive oil if you prefer). When the orzo pieces are super toasty, we stir in the chicken stock.
For there, the process is pretty simple. We bring the mixture to up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until almost all of the liquid is absorbed and the orzo is aldente. I like to give the orzo a stir every few minutes to make sure the orzo doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. This also helps to release the starch a little bit better (similar to how we cook risotto).
When the orzo is aldente, we throw in a few cups of spinach, a touch of heavy cream and a half cup or so of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- If the mixture seems a little more sticky than creamy, adding a bit more chicken stock is an easy remedy
- As with any dish, the final step before serving is to taste to make sure the seasoning are correct, I almost always have to add an extra pinch of salt and pepper.
- Make sure to sure the orzo while cooking so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
- Add in toasted pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, or drained artichokes for extra flavor and texture.
- If you don’t have parmesan cheese, you can use pecorino or Romano cheese.
What to serve with One Pot Cream Spinach Orzo
- This Crispy Salmon with pesto is the perfect simple meal to pair with spinach orzo.
- Our favorite Broiled Tilapia shares a lot of the same ingredients, so it would be the perfect combo.
- This Easy Sheet Pan Chicken Parmesan is a family favorite and begging for an easy side to serve with it.
For more easy dinner sides, check out these dishes:
- Caprese Pasta Salad: Show Me The Yummy
- Bacon Roasted Fingerling Potatoes: Cooking for Keeps
- Skillet Bacon Bourbon Green Beans: The Cookie Rookie
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups whole-wheat orzo
- 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, plus more if needed
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 2 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
- Heat a medium pot over a medium heat. Add butter. Once the butter melts, add the onion and garlic. Saute until slightly softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add orzo. Toss to coat in butter, garlic and onion. Toast the orzo, stirring often until some pieces are slightly toasted and brown.
- Stir in the the chicken stock and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the orzo is aldente and most of the chicken stock has been absorbed. Make sure to stir the orzo a few times so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. If the orzo is still not done when the liquid has all been absorbed, add in another 1/4 cup of chicken stock.
- Add the heavy cream, parmesan cheese, and spinach. Stir until spinach has wilted and cheese has melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with parmesan cheese.