Toasted Garlic and Spinach Orzo

If you’re looking for an orzo recipe that’s not only tasty but versatile and easy to prepare, look no further.

Orzo develops a great deal of flavor when you pan-toast the dry pasta first in a combination of butter and olive oil then cook it risotto-style in chicken broth instead of water.

Add in a hearty dose of sautéed garlic, thin shreds of fresh spinach and a bit of grated Parmesan cheese and you end up with a versatile, tasty side dish to serve with simply prepared main courses like:

Toasted Garlic and Spinach Orzo

Toasted Garlic and Spinach Orzo

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Pan-toasting the pasta in a bit of butter and olive oil adds depth of flavor to this simple orzo recipe. Combined with a hearty portion of sautéed garlic, fresh spinach and grated Parmesan, it's a versatile side dish that complements a wide variety of simple main dishes.


  • 3/4 lb orzo
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2-1/2 to 3-3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large frying pan (preferably nonstick) over medium heat.
  • Add the dry orzo, stir to coat thoroughly with the butter and oil and cook, stirring frequently, until a good portion of the orzo is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Stir in 2-1/2 cups of the chicken broth and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cover, reduce the heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Although it will most likely still be too firm, check the orzo for doneness. Add another 1/4 cup of broth, cover and cook until it’s absorbed, 2 minutes.
  • Repeat the process, adding broth in 1/4 cup increments until the orzo is tender. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  • Return the pan to the stove over medium heat and add the remaining butter and olive oil. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Start adding spinach, a handful at a time and continue cooking until wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Return the orzo to the pan, combine with the spinach and heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the Parmesan cheese, adjust the seasoning to taste and transfer to a serving dish.
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