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Serve this creamy orzo risotto as a side or as a main dish. Delicious either way.
Creamy orzo risotto is one of those recipes that prove how versatile this pasta truly is.
There’s just so many ways to use it. Since you had to buy some if you wanted to make my shrimp and zucchini with orzo, then here’s a way to use up what you bought!
If you haven’t used it, orzo is shaped like rice grains. In fact it’s used lots of times to stand in for rice. Mostly I use it in one-dish meals to add a bit of bulk and extend the meal. It’s texture is unlike rice in as much as it has a very silky texture and as a result, adds a nice textural component to those one-pot meals.
Easily Made Vegan
This orzo risotto uses milk, chicken stock and cheese. You can easily substitute vegetable stock and then it becomes vegetarian for those who include dairy in their diets.
However, it can easily be made vegan with further substitutions. Of course it stands to reason that you’d also use vegetable stock in place of the chicken. You can substitute one of the many plant-based milks for the regular kind. Personally, I think almond milk would be a terrific choice. As for the cheese, I know there’s many now on the market which are plant based. How good they melt, I can’t say. However, they should taste fine, even if they don’t melt. And another option is just to leave them out; the risotto will taste perfectly fine even without them.
Spinach: Fresh Or Frozen
Anyone who has hung around my site for any length of time knows I am a big advocate of fresh.
It’s no different in this recipe when it comes to the spinach. My choice is pre-washed organic baby spinach mainly because it can be used straight from the bag. You can, of course, use frozen. Because frozen is already wilted, just halve the amount of the fresh. Make sure you measure it after you’ve squeezed the water out of it. But I truthfully don’t measure it. I just toss in what looks about right. And don’t feel constrained to using less. If you love spinach, throw in as much as you like and make it the main ingredient–especially if you want more veggie than pasta.
Creamy Spinach & Orzo Risotto
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb dried orzo pasta about 2 1/2 cups
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups packed baby spinach coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Add the onion and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and orzo, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Stir in the broth and milk and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed and has formed a creamy sauce, about 10 minutes. (If the orzo isn’t completely cooked once this has happened, you can add another splash or two of broth to the pot and continue to simmer until it has.)
- Stir in the spinach and grated cheeses until the spinach has just wilted and the cheese melts, about 1 minute.
- Taste and and add salt & pepper if necessary