This quick and easy parmesan spinach orzo has a light, creamy sauce and plenty of fresh spinach. Perfect with veggies, salad, chicken, fish, or sausage!
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If we pitted our favorite side dishes against each other March Madness-style, I’d put serious money on this creamy parmesan orzo.
It’s quick! Simple! Versatile! Easy to customize!
(Also, there’s cheese. You know how we do.)
This spinach orzo pasta recipe is almost like an orzo alfredo: there’s plenty of garlic and parmesan in a light, creamy sauce.
For having so few ingredients, this alfredo orzo also packs an impressive amount of flavor – just make sure you’re using quality parmesan cheese for best results!
How to riff on this spinach orzo:
This creamy orzo is an amazing blank-canvas recipe – it’s easy to tweak, so use whatever you have! Some of our favorite additions and substitutions:
- Cheese: Add feta, goat cheese, white cheddar, fontina, havarti, or brie in place of (or in addition to!) the parmesan.
- Greens: We love making this orzo with spinach, but you can swap the greens here! Use kale or arugula in place of spinach if you like. Fresh or frozen spinach is fine!
- Veggies: Make this orzo pasta even heartier by adding peas, corn, steamed or roasted broccoli, roasted brussels sprouts or parsnips, or bell peppers.
- Protein: Stir in cooked chopped or shredded chicken, Italian sausage, or top with sautéed shrimp for extra protein. This is also good with butter beans or cannellini beans mixed in!
- If you don’t have orzo on hand, use any kind of pasta you like! For larger pastas (like rigatoni or cavatappi) you may want to use extra milk or cream to stretch the sauce a bit farther.
What to serve with this creamy orzo:
This easy, creamy orzo recipe goes with just about everything! Some of our favorite recipes to serve with it:
- Easy Lemon Garlic Butter Salmon or Steelhead
- Quick Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
- Easy Crusty Artisan Bread
VIDEO: HOW TO MAKE PARMESAN SPINACH ORZO
An easy, creamy parmesan spinach orzo recipe.
- 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 green onions, chopped (about ¼ cup)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1 ¾ cup milk
- 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Cook orzo in very salty water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
- Add green onion and garlic to oil. Sauté, stirring once or twice, for about a minute until onions have softened and garlic is fragrant.
- Add salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Add flour to pot and stir to combine. Let cook for 30 seconds or so to cook out any raw flour taste.
- Add milk to the pot a little at a time, whisking constantly to work out any lumps. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened and reached a low simmer, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add chopped spinach to sauce and stir to combine.
- Add parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese has melted and you have a smooth sauce.
- Return cooked orzo to sauce and toss to coat. Turn off the heat and serve immediately.
Additions and Substitutions. Use feta, goat cheese, white cheddar, fontina, brie, or havarti in place of (or in addition to!) the parmesan here. Swap kale or arugula for the spinach if you prefer, or use frozen spinach. Add chicken, shrimp, sausage, sautéed mushrooms, broccoli, or any other veggies you have on hand to this orzo to make it a little heartier. (For more swaps and substitutions, be sure to read the post above!)
If the sauce is too thin, let it cook for a few extra minutes. Too thick? Add a splash of milk to thin it out.
Use shallots, yellow onions, or white onions in place of the green onions if you like.
No orzo? Use any pasta you like! If you’re using a larger pasta like rigatoni or cavatappi, you may want to use extra milk or add a dash of cream to stretch the sauce a bit more.
Strict vegetarians should look for parmesan cheese made without rennet.
This recipe was updated in April 2020.
Keywords: alfredo, cream sauce, pasta