Cheesy Spinach Orzo Pasta Sides in a small white bowl next to a wooden spoon with two more bowls in the background all on a wooden surface (with logo overlay)

Cheesy Spinach Orzo Pasta Sides

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.

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.

Orzo pasta in boiling water in a small saucepan over a gas stovetop

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.

Minced garlic roasting in butter in a small saucepan over a gas stovetop

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.

Milk added to roasted garlic and butter in a small saucepan over a gas stovetop

Bring this to a simmer and cook for about 6-8 minutes. The sauce will start to thicken.

Liquid simmering in a small saucepan on a gas stovetop

Pour in the spinach and cook for a few minutes until it has wilted.

Tan liquid with wilted spinach in a small saucepan over a gas stovetop

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.

Cheesy Spinach Orzo Pasta Sides in a small white bowl next to a wooden spoon with two more bowls in the background all on a wooden surface (vertical)

Recipe

Originally Published On: February 9, 2018

Last Updated On: September 18, 2019

Cheesy Spinach Orzo Pasta Sides in a small white bowl next to a wooden spoon with two more bowls in the background all on a wooden surface

Cheesy Spinach Orzo Pasta Sides

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.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: orzo, pasta, spinach
Servings: 4 cups
4.72 from 7 votes

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  • 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
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Nutrition Facts
Cheesy Spinach Orzo Pasta Sides
Amount Per Serving (0.5 cup)
Calories 288 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Cholesterol 7mg2%
Sodium 119mg5%
Potassium 186mg5%
Carbohydrates 45g15%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 333IU7%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 124mg12%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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40 thoughts on “Cheesy Spinach Orzo Pasta Sides”

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

    1. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

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