Baked Orzo with Spinach, Corn & Asparagus

Baked Orzo with Spinach, Corn & Asparagus1
Okay, I have a pattern. On this blog. I write either about desserts or pasta here. I have a proof. But what can I say?! They are two of my favorite things. The weather here is not helping the matters either. This rainy, gloomy weather forces me to switch on the oven almost everyday! It makes me add cinnamon to every sweet stuff I bake so that the house smells like Fall. I am craving soups and wearing cardigan while going out. Gosh, how I am in love with the weather right now!!
You guys know I am all for skinny dishes. But that does not mean I do not like eating overloaded cheesy goodness. In fact, I LOVE it so much but just NEVER make it. I can’t bring myself to add a pound of cheese to any dish knowingly. Period.
Baked Orzo with Spinach, Corn & Asparagus2
This dish here is in no way skinny. But not unusually loaded either. Something in between. A dish I would dive in. It is everything I had hoped and dreamed for in baked pasta. There’re pillows of corn and asparagus throughout. There are decadent, gooey cheese pulls stretching from every forkful. And it is easy. Yes, as easy as this simple mac-n-cheese I know how to make. So make it NOW as there is no reason to keep yourself away from such a bliss.
Baked Orzo with Spinach, Corn & Asparagus
Serves: 2
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Orzo, a rice shaped pasta
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 8-10 spears of asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces, hard/woody ends discarded
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5-6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato pest
  • 1/2 cup spinach leaves, packed, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup Mozzarella cheese, small cubes of 1/2 cm
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp oregano flakes
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºF. Boil a pot of water with generous sprinkle of salt. Add Orzo, corn kernels and asparagus to the boiling water. Let it boil for 2 minutes and after that save 1/2 cup of water. Drain Orzo, corn kernels, asparagus and set aside.
  2. Simultaneously heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil to the hot pan and once oil is shimmering, add the shallots, garlic and celery. Cook for 3 minutes or so till shallots turn translucent. Add tomato paste, Orzo, corn kernels, asparagus and cook for 3 more minutes. Off the heat. Immediately mix-in spinach leaves.
  3. Add Parmesan, Mozzarella, salt, pepper, oregano, red chilli flakes, lemon zest and pasta water and mix well.
  4. Transfer mixture to a small oval or 6×6-inch square ovenproof baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then bake for 15 minutes without the foil. (You can change ratio of foil-on to foil-off time as per your preference for crunchy pasta lid.) Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes:

*You can use whole-wheat Orzo or replace Orzo with any other small-sized pasta.
*I used pasta water and did not feel that the dish was lacking in flavor at all. But if you do not like using water then use vegetable stock.

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13 thoughts on “Baked Orzo with Spinach, Corn & Asparagus

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