Cheesy Baked Orzo With Marinara
A vegetarian weeknight pasta that’s as comforting as it is easy, this dish will win over adults and kids alike (red-pepper flakes optional!). While fresh mozzarella can become tough and chewy when baked, shredded low-moisture mozzarella melts beautifully. Serve this with a simple, lemony arugula salad or a Caesar salad for ultimate weeknight comfort.
- Serves: 4 persons
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1cup orzo
- 1tablespoon olive oil
- 2teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
- ¼teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- 5ounces fresh baby spinach (about 7 cups)
- 1(24- to 25-ounce) jar marinara sauce
- ½cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus torn or sliced basil for serving
- 1cup shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
- ⅓cup grated Parmesan cheese
Step 1Heat the oven to 375 degrees and bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package instructions until just al dente. Drain the orzo and set aside.
Step 2Meanwhile, in a very large (12-inch) ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook until fragrant (don't let the garlic burn), about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing often, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the marinara, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat.
Step 3Stir the cooked orzo into the sauce. Stir in the mozzarella, sprinkle the Parmesan on top, and bake, uncovered, until the Parmesan is melted and the pasta is heated through, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with additional basil, and serve warm.