creamy garlic spinach orzo

So we found this enormous bag of fresh spinach in a cheapo Produce Junction market, maybe 4 pounds, and cooked it up into a whole lot of cooked spinach that we stashed in the fridge for later use. Its turn came and bob decided to match it with farro and beans but needed some cooperating ingredients to complete the dish. Web searching on "orzo spinach" turns up a bunch of creamy garlic spinach orzo recipes that highly overlap each other. Garlic, onion, broth, some added milk or heavy cream, some just parmigiano, one a touch of red pepper. And of course salt and pepper. We had some left over black beans in the fridge so they would be the protein dominated ingredient (a can of mixed bean types was the alternative left unchosen). bob's addition to round out the dish to be a bit more nutritionally complete.

So one starts this like a typical "farrotto" sauteeing onion in olive oil, then some generous pressed garlic (the recipe title, remember?) and toss in the farro to toast it a bit before adding some hot broth and the milk or cream which is needed for the extra creaminess. We had the already cooked spinach and a lot more of it than these other recipes, which only toss in two cups of packed leaves. And the beans. And a touch of red pepper flakes always punches up the flavor a bit, together with ani's suggested lemon zest for a similar reason.

The result was really tasty, we were in total agreement! By exaggerating the spinach quantity we reduced the percentage per volume ratio of the carbs, even though we only use whole wheat orzo, sometimes less is more.


1 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
1 c uncooked whole wheat orzo pasta
salt & pepper to taste
a light touch of red pepper flakes
2 1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream (or 2 c broth and 1 c milk to lighten it up)
2 c (packed) fresh baby spinach (we used 2 c cooked spinach)
1 can beans (we uad 1/2 can black beans, but would have tossed in a can of mixed beans)
lemon zest from 1/2 lemon (optional)
1/2 c freshly grated parmigiano cheese (plus more for each serving)


  1. Precook a big 2 pound bag of fresh spinach for our version. 
  2. Saute the onion in the oil and butter in a big nonstick pot for a few minutes, then the garlic for a minute, then toss in the orzo and stir that around for a minute or two or three. This adds flavor to this tiny pasta shape which sucks it up from the pot stuff already present by this time. Add in the red pepper flakes and some salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile heat up your tea pot to have enough boiling water to add to your broth powder/whatever, and add it to the pot with your heavy cream/milk and simmer for 15 minutes or so checking the pasta for losing that chewy texture. Add more boiling water if needed to continue cooking and leave the final version creamy.
  4. Add in the beans and spinach and stir around so they heat up a few minutes (cook down if fresh spinach).
  5. Remove from the neat, adjust spices if you know how at this point and stir in the cheese. Then let sit covered for 5 minutes to relax.
  6. Then serve with additional freshly graded parmigiano to each serving.


  1. Ani sort of followed this recipe roughly: after bob's search.
  2. Lemon and mushrooms are have affinities for this recipe, and farro is an alternative carb component. In fact the first version of this recipe had "farro" everywhere "orzo" should be due to a short circuit in bob's brain which stores these two food items in adjacent memory bins.
  3. Whole Foods stopped carrying whole wheat orzo, must be Jeff Bezos's fault. Wegman's still comes through for us.
  4. Produce Junction is a local tri-state (PA, DE, NJ) chain of very economical and more ethnic produce items. bob spotted 4 types of malanga there.
  5. Illustrations available.
orzospinach.htm: 18-jan-2021 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]