Lemon Orzo with Spinach is one of the best ways to make an easy side dish or vegetarian main meal. Since you can cook everything in one large skillet, it has a great flavor that makes it easy to clean afterward. Add this creamy lemon orzo to your must-make menu.
What I love about making this creamy lemon spinach orzo is that it's a great main course, or it can be served as a hearty side dish, too. The addition of the cherry tomatoes adds a fun pop of color and citrus flavor that really balances out the rest of the tastes. It's not only an easy recipe, but it's a delicious one as well.
This is the perfect side dish to pair with weeknight dinners, and it's one that can be served as leftovers for a light lunch. It's so much fun to make because it's really just that easy. You'd even have time right now to make it for dinner tonight.
Orzo - You can buy this at the store in the pasta section. You can even use gluten-free orzo pasta for this dish. You want to cook it just so it is al dente according to the package instructions.
Lemon zest - For flavor and taste.
Olive oil - To cook the ingredients in the skillet. Coconut oil or avocado oil will work, too.
Spinach - Fresh spinach is key.
Grape Tomatoes - Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or sun-dried tomatoes would also work for this dish.
Cheese - Parmesan cheese or feta cheese are my two top recommendations.
How to Make Lemon Orzo with Spinach Recipe
All you need is a little time to make this perfect meal.
Step One: Add the oil to the skillet. Once it is hot, add the chopped spinach and halved tomatoes.
Step Two: Add the cooked orzo. Saute for 5 minutes.
Step Three: Stir in the lemon zest. Top with the shredded cheese, and serve! Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge.
Expert Tip: If you would like a more potent lemon flavor you can also add the lemon juice of the lemon you zested.
Add a hint of orange - You can easily make this orzo dish have quite the citrus flavor just by adding in a little orange zest or orange juice. I like to do this at the end and drizzle or squeeze it on top of the most flavor and taste.
Use chicken broth - If you want to add a little bit of chicken broth while you are cooking the orzo, this can be a great way to add liquid so the mixture isn't dry. Chicken stock or vegetable broth works well, also.
Change the type of cheese - Feta cheese works well for this dish, as does parmesan cheese, or a cup of cheese that is shredded and has various flavors such as an Italian blend.
Use butter - If you don't want to use oil to cook the food, you can use melted butter instead. It will add a nice, rich flavor to the dish.
Change the type of pasta - Orzo recipes like this are super easy to make, so it's the perfect dish to try with a different type of pasta next time. Some of my favorite pasta is angel hair or fettuccine noodles.
Creamy - For a creamier dish stir ¼ cup heavy cream in along with the lemon zest.
What do I serve with this lemon orzo recipe?
Healthy recipes like this offer so many options! The best thing to serve is grilled chicken so that you get some protein added to the dish. This is especially delicious if you're serving the orzo recipe as a side salad of sorts.
Speaking of side salads, having a small one with some salad dressing isn't a bad idea either. It's like and pairs well with this option for a busy weeknight. You can also add any steamed or grilled vegetables as an option, too.
Can I use frozen spinach?
I find that fresh spinach works best just because it has a quick cooking time. If you do use frozen spinach, it's going to release a ton of water as it cooks, making the orzo pasta a soggy mess that will be much to liquidy.
I like to use baby spinach in this dish because it has such a nice and mellow flavor. You can tear it into pieces or dice it up with a knife before sauteeing in the skillet.
What are good toppings for this simple side dish?
Since the simple ingredients of this recipe are soft in texture, adding pine nuts on top could be the perfect thing to add a little bit of crunch. Fresh herbs also pair well with the leafy greens and don't forget that a bit of lemon zest and a pinch of salt are great options, too.
- ½ lb orzo cooked
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- 2 cup fresh spinach chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- zest of one lemon
- ½ cup shredded parmesan
- First, cook the orzo al dente according to the pacakge instructions. Drain well and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil, then add tomatoes, spinach, and cooked orzo.
- Stir and saute for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Once the pasta and tomatoes are hot, and the spinach is wilted, add the lemon zest and shredded parmesan. Stir well then serve.