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

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

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


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large frying pan (preferably nonstick) over medium heat.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Repeat the process, adding broth in 1/4 cup increments until the orzo is tender. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  6. 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.
  7. Start adding spinach, a handful at a time and continue cooking until wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. 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.