If you’re looking for a new way to cook orzo, try this baked orzo recipe packed with vegetables and ricotta cheese. Not only is it super easy to make but this healthy dish is full of flavor, fiber, and protein.
What is orzo?
Orzo, pronounced or-zoh, is a thin, oval, rice-shaped pasta. Although it looks like rice, orzo is the Italian term for barley and is classified as pastina or “little pasta”, which is a category of very small pasta. Orzo is traditionally made with semolina or durum wheat flour, however, can also be made with all-purpose or whole wheat flour. Although orzo originated in Italy, orzo has long been popular in cuisines in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, especially Greece.
Can you bake orzo in the oven?
While the simplest way to cook orzo is to boil it in water, as you would for any other pasta, orzo can be baked in the oven to create a baked pasta dish or casserole.
What You’ll Need
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this healthy oven-baked orzo with vegetables and ricotta.
- Orzo: As you may have guessed, orzo is the star of this baked orzo recipe.
- Bell Pepper and Mushrooms: To add some veggies, texture, and fiber to the dish.
- Onion and Garlic: Some aromatics for flavor.
- Herbs: Some dried basil and parsley to enhance the Italian flavor and some fresh basil to finish the dish. Although the recipe doesn’t call for it, a bit of dried oregano would work well too.
- Tomatoes: The recipe calls for canned tomatoes, but you could certainly use fresh ones.
- Spinach: To add some fiber and leafy greens.
- Ricotta Cheese: To add a boost of protein and creaminess to the dish.
- Broth: I used chicken broth to add flavor to the baked orzo but vegetable broth would work too.
- Mozzarella Cheese: To add a touch more protein and healthy fat and finish the casserole with a cheesy topping.
How to Make Baked Orzo
Orzo may look like rice but once baked it has a nutty flavor and a springy texture and, the best part is, it’s super is to make! Here’s what you’ll do:
- In a large casserole dish, add the diced vegetables, herbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil, stir to combine, then transfer to the bake to bake.
- Once the vegetables are cooked, add the spinach, tomatoes, ricotta, orzo, and chicken broth, give everything a good stir, then return it to the oven to bake until the orzo is tender, and the sauce is bubbling.
- Once the orzo is cooked, sprinkle the top of the casserole with shredded mozzarella cheese and then return it to the oven until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
- Once cooked, allow the baked orzo to rest for 5 minutes before serving, and enjoy!
While optional, I like to garnish the casserole with a bit of fresh basil before serving.
What is the ratio of water to orzo?
The optimal ratio of water to orzo is similar to that of rice, which is generally 2:1 or 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of uncooked orzo.
Does orzo expand when cooked?
Much like other pasta shapes, orzo expands a fair bit when it cooks. Orzo will generally more than doubles in size once cooked.
Red’s Nutrition Tip
Is orzo healthy for weight loss? Absolutely! Not only is pasta a healthy food that has been consumed for thousands of years but pasta can be included in a healthy diet and support a goal of weight loss. As long as total calories are controlled for and the orzo is consumed within a calorie deficit, orzo is healthy for weight loss.
What to Serve with Baked Orzo
This baked orzo dish is a well-balanced meal complete with protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. It can be enjoyed on its own as a vegetarian main course or can be served as a side dish to a main course of chicken, meat, or fish.
If you’re looking to add more protein to your meal, I recommend serving the baked orzo with a piece of baked, roasted, or grilled fish or meat, such as grilled steak, pesto baked salmon, or lemon pepper chicken thighs.
If you’re looking to add more fiber to your meal, I recommend serving the baked orzo with roasted, grilled, or steamed vegetables, such as broccoli or asparagus, or a simple leafy green or garden salad.
Storage + Reheating
To Store: Allow the baked orzo to cool completely, then cover the baking dish with aluminum foil or transfer it to an airtight container, or multiple containers if storing individual portions, and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To Freeze: To freeze whole, allow the baked orzo to cool completely then cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, place it in a freezer-safe bag, and place it in the freezer. To freeze leftovers, transfer the leftovers to an airtight container and place it in the freezer. The baked orzo can be frozen for up to 3 months.
To Reheat: From the fridge, transfer the whole baked orzo, covered, in the oven at 350°F for 20-30 minutes until heated through and bubbling. Individual portions can be reheated in an oven-safe baking dish at 350°F for 10-15 minutes or in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. If frozen, allow the baked orzo to thaw completely and then reheat at 350°F for 20-30 minutes or until heated through. To reheat from frozen, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and warm it in the oven at 350°F for 40-50 minutes until heated through.
More Baked Orzo Recipes:Print
Vegetable and Ricotta Baked Orzo
Filled with vegetables and ricotta cheese, this baked orzo is a healthy vegetarian casserole that works well as a main course for lunch or dinner.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cups mushrooms, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, fire-roasted if possible
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 lb. orzo, dry (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth, or vegetable
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- Fresh basil, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a large 9×13-inch baking dish, add onion, bell pepper, mushroom, garlic, dried basil, dried parsley, and salt. Drizzle with olive oil, stir until is well combined, then transfer to the oven to bake for 15 minutes.
- Once the vegetables have cooked, remove the baking dish from the oven, add the chopped spinach and give it a good stir until it begins to wilt into the vegetable mixture.
- Add the canned tomatoes and ricotta cheese and stir again until well incorporated with the vegetables. Then add the dry orzo and broth and stir until everything is well combined.
- Return the baking dish, uncovered, to the oven for 15 minutes, remove it from the oven and give everything a good stir, and return it to the oven for a final 10-15 minutes until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Once the pasta is tender, remove the baking dish from the oven, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese, and then return the baking dish to the oven for a final 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. (Optional: Once the cheese is melted, you can turn the oven to broil for 1-2 minutes to give the cheese a golden-brown color.)
- Once the cheese has melted, remove the baking dish from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 584 calories
- Sugar: 13 grams
- Fat: 17 grams
- Carbohydrates: 80 grams
- Fiber: 9 grams
- Protein: 26 grams
Keywords: baked orzo