Use orzo pasta to make a delicious side dish with spinach and Parmesan cheese that your family will be sure to enjoy with almost any meal.Jump to Recipe
One of the food items I’m always the worst at is trying to come up with side dishes to go with our meals. I get so focused on the main dish that I forget about anything else. I love orzo pasta and have made a few meals with it before. We planned for Cheesy Spinach Orzo to be the main dish one night. It ended up working better as a side item.
Orzo is so versatile because it’s the size and shape of rice but still tastes like pasta. I have only made a few recipes with it and enjoyed every one of them. The trick is to get the orzo cooked just right. Since it’s so small it’s easy to overcook, make sure to keep a close eye on it while it boils.
Until I had made Chicken Orzo Pasta with Vegetables, most of my extended family had never had orzo. All the women were here to visit earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed those leftovers. Now, we all have made a few recipes with orzo in it.
Step by Step
Each brand of orzo is slightly different, so start by cooking the orzo as directed on the package. Typically, you are just boiling the pasta in water for a set amount of time, usually about 10 minutes. Stir it occasionally, so the orzo doesn’t stick to the pan, then drain in a colander. Remember, the pieces are small, so you need a small-slotted strainer for this. My regular spaghetti one has too large of holes, so I use a mesh strainer.
You need to act quickly when making this, so nothing sticks to the pan. Before you start, measure the ingredients. This allows you to move quickly when adding the ingredients.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook these for about a minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the flour and whisk this into the oil mixture, then stir in enough milk to whisk the flour until there are no lumps. I find about 1/4 to 1/2 of the milk is enough for this. Once there are no lumps, continue to whisk in the rest of the milk.
Bring this to a simmer and cook for about 6-8 minutes. The sauce will start to thicken.
Pour in the spinach and cook for a few minutes until it has wilted.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese until it melts. Add the orzo to the sauce. Stir gently until it is coated. Garnish with extra parmesan cheese or spinach leaves and serve your Cheesy Spinach Orzo immediately.
Originally Published On: February 9, 2018
Last Updated On: September 18, 2019
Cheesy Spinach Orzo Pasta Sides
- 16 oz orzo pasta
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- 2 tsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 2/3 cup spinach (chopped)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (shredded)
- Cook orzo pasta as directed
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in medium pot and add minced garlic, salt, and pepper
- Cook about 1 minute, until garlic is fragrant
- Add flour and whisk until combined
- Slowly add milk while whisking to eliminate lumps
- Simmer for about 6-8 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken
- Mix in spinach and cook for a few minutes until it wilts
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese until it’s melted
- Add the orzo to the sauce and stir to coat
- Garnish with extra parmesan cheese and serve immediately
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutrition content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.
40 thoughts on “Cheesy Spinach Orzo Pasta Sides”
I am also terrible at side dishes. I always forget and we are half way done eating by the time I remember. This sounds amazing I love cheese and spinach!
Yep, that happens to me all the time, too. I get too focused on the main dish.
Sides are harder than they seem! But I really like what you did here – I am a huge fan of orzo so I might have to give this one a go! Pasta? Check. Cheese? Check. Garlic? Check check check. I am in!
I know, it all works together so well. And I love orzo pasta too!
A recipe that makes in 30 minutes or less for four is exactly what I look for in a recipe! The ingredients are super simple and things that I won’t have to run around looking for. My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures!
We are the same way, those are the best recipes for my family, too. And my boys will eat this, which is always a win here!
So glad as I got older I learned to love spinach. All that cheese and spinach oh my I couldn’t ask for a better dish to enjoy.
Same with me. I used to not eat it when I was little, but now I can eat it in most dishes.
Im deffo going yo try this, but a lor of parms aren’t vegetarian. Do you think using mozzarella would work just as well?
I haven’t tried it, but I often substitute one for the other if we are out of one of the cheeses and it doesn’t seem to make a huge difference. So I would think it would still work well!
Oh yum! This looks too good!!! Thanks for the pictures, it always makes these kinds of posts that much more amazing!!!
I always find it easier to have photos of the steps when I am cooking, so I try my hardest to include them. I’m glad you find them helpful!
I think this is a great side dish but could also be an awesome main dish! Add a little grilled chicken or shrimp and voila! I love fresh baby spinach! This looks delicious.
Oh, that sounds delicious! I do have a recipe for spinach and orzo, but it’s still different from this. I am going to have to try adding either that or chicken next time. Great idea!
I could eat pasta all day every day. I’ll definitely have to try this recipe!
There are days I could, too! But really, I’ve been loving orzo pasta the most lately.
mmm this looks and sounds delicious. definitely going in the recipe binder of things to try
Awesome! I used to have a binder with all my recipes, too, until I started doing them online 🙂
Yummy!!! This looks awesome.
It’s definitely awesome 🙂
Oh my heck girl! Literally my only wish is for you to come cook for me. Hahaha this looks and sounds amazing!
I would love to! I enjoy cooking for others most of the time.
I like foods and try to cook by myself. But the thing is I don’t get enough time for it. The recipe you showed here looks less time-consuming. I should try this out when I get time. Thanks for sharing.
Luckily, this is a side dish that doesn’t take too long. It’s a favorite at our house!
I like so much spinach, since it has a lot of amazing healthy benefits. Also, it’s so delicious with any meal. This spinach orzo pasta is a must try for me. I’ll make it!
Yes, it’s great when I can get it into a meal that the whole family will eat. Spinach is such a healthy food.
I have made orzo a few times but it never turns out just right. I clearly need to step my game up!
There are a lot of ways to make orzo. It does get overcooked quickly, though, since it’s such small pieces of pasta. You just have to keep a close watch on it.
Love the way it tastes – creamy and delicious. Mine turned out just as on your photo. Thanks to your directions of course.
Perfect! It’s such a great side dish and so easy to make. I’m glad you enjoyed it!
This looks so tasty and I haven’t made orzo in so long. Now I have a reason to put it back on our menu.
I love orzo pasta. I am always trying to find new ways to incorporate it into our meals.
OH MY!!! This looks soooo delicious!!! I am so gonna try to make it this weekend, thanks a lot for the recipe.
It’s a wonderful side or could easily be a lighter main dish. I hope you enjoy!
I make something very similar and it is an absolute crowd pleaser in my house. Delicious, simple, and reasonably good for the kiddos!
I’m glad you all like it, too! It makes such a great side dish and gets some green stuff in us!
Such a yummy, easy side! My hubby makes several variations on this – I love the spinach/parm version you have here, but he also has one with goat cheese and one with sundried tomatoes/pine nuts. All delish!
Oh, interesting. I’ve never tried goat cheese, but I do have a variation with sundried tomatoes. But it doesn’t have pine nuts in it.
I recently discovered orzo and love it. Especially with spinach! I can’t wait to make this!
Oh my gosh, orzo is the best! I’ve loved it since the first time I had it.