Creamy and Delicious Garlic Parmesan Orzo Pasta

This recipe has been a family favorite for more than 5 years. There was a time when I made it monthly! Garlic Parmesan Orzo Pasta is such a delicious, cheesy, creamy and easy recipe; a great way to get the littles to eat spinach. This past week I made it with butternut squash soup, and it was such a win that we did not have leftovers, even with making a double batch.

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Published February 20, 2021
Updated March 7, 2022
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Cost Breakdown for Orzo Pasta

When making this dish, I use a 16-ounce box of orzo pasta as I double the recipe.
Here is the cost to make a double batch

16-ounce Orzo Pasta $1.19
Garlic $0.25
Spinach 1/2 bag $0.75
Parmesan 1/3 block $1.26
Butter $0.55
Chicken base $pennies, as I used 2 tsp of a 1-pound container

Total cost: $4.00 for a double batch.
below I list the ingredients to make a single batch, it would cost $2.00

Buying groceries on Amazon seems like a really convenient solution to avoiding stores, or when one is isolated. You order all of your essentials, pay online, get free delivery, shipping is fast, and voila – groceries! Honestly, with the last two years living in a pandemic our family has had groceries delivered multiple times to our home while we were in isolation. Check the website for pricing updates as the above prices were from a shopping trip to a local ALDI.

To buy a 5-oz package of Knorr rice side is $1.00 at Walmart. To get an equivalent amount for this dish you would need to buy 3.5 packages and 3.5 Tbsp butter at a cost of $4.00.
Homemade is 5-6 ingredients. Below is a screenshot of the back of one package of Knorr rice side dish.

Knorr pasta ingredient list

The package has more than a dozen ingredients. Some of which are processed chemicals, anti-caking powders and preservatives. Making meals from scratch since 2015 has not been easy, it has been a trial and a huge learning experience. One thing I have loved is not giving our children processed foods and preservatives. And making sauces saves SO much money!
Looking at the ingredients list I was curious about some of them, so I did a quick internet search:
*Maltodextrin: is high on the glycemic index, meaning it can cause a spike in your blood sugar. It is safe to consume in very small amounts, but those with diabetes should be particularly careful. It is a polysaccharide that is used as a food additive and is produced from vegetable starch by partial hydrolysis and is usually found as a white hygroscopic spray-dried powder. Maltodextrin is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly as glucose and may be either moderately sweet or almost flavorless.
*Hydrolyzed Soy Protein: is made by breaking down large soy protein molecules into their smaller, constituent amino acids by a chemical process. Used as flavor enhancers, sources of vegetable protein and are even present as soy ingredients in cosmetics.
*Silicon Dioxide: also known as silica, is a natural compound made of two earth’s most abundant materials: silicon and oxygen. Most commonly found in nature as quartz and in various living organisms. In many parts of the world, silica is the major contributor of sand. It has been used in many food products as an anticaking agent.

Menu Planning

When making food from scratch, all to most of these ingredients are avoided. My husband and I are thankful that our finances allow me to stay home to make homemade deliciousness! With planning recipes, meal planning, grocery shopping, prepping food, cooking food and doing all of the other things… it is a wonder how anything else can get done in a day.
One day a week I do the grocery shopping, I try really hard to not go to stores more than once a week as I am a terrible impulse buyer and will spend more than our family needs to spend. Going with a list helps big time. Below are two documents that I had created a few years ago. Feel free to download them and make copies. I like to have mine on one sheet, with each on one side, so it makes a weekly meal planning and shopping as easy as possible.

Weekly Menu Planner is a great sheet to help you plan out your weekly meals. Next to the day, write what meal you will be having, and in the two lines provided list what specific foods you will need for each day. After you have your meals planned and the food written out check your pantry, fridge and freezer and see what you need to add to the Grocery List.

Grocery List is an awesome way to itemize your grocery shopping experience. It is separated by categories and provides a lot of space for each item you need to list. When you are shopping make sure you stick to your list. It seriously helps to stick to a budget and to only buy what you need. Every time you pick up an item, make sure to cross it off your Grocery List so you can keep track of what you need to put into your cart.

Tyler and I joke that we are raising our kids like a family out of the 1950’s. For real, it is funny to joke! I just wear sweats and not a dress!! As much as I joke about being a 1950’s housewife, for real this is exactly where I want to be, we do it because it works for our family. With one income and four kids, it has not always been easy. But, with weekly meal planning and a budget, it is possible!

Garlic Parmesan Orzo Pasta Recipe

Ingredients

4 Tbsp butter
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
14-ounce water
2 tsp chicken base
1 Tbsp minced garlic
10-ounce spinach
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

ingredients for Garlic Parmesan Orzo pasta on countertop

Directions for Garlic Parmesan Orzo

1. In a large pan melt 2 Tbsp butter on medium heat.

butter melting in a pan on stove

2. Add orzo and mix into butter. Cook until browned and stir often to prevent the orzo from burning.

3. Add water and chicken base, or chicken stock and then bring to a boil. It will bubble and steam so make sure to add the liquids slowly.

stock added to make sauce for Garlic Parmesan Orzo

4. When the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.

simmer with lid on pot

5. Rinse spinach and then roughly chop into small pieces. Set aside.

spinach garlic and parmesan on red cutting board

6. Peel, smash and then mince garlic. Set aside. Additionally, make sure the garlic is minced and does not have large chunks as it will blend better into the pasta.

minced garlic on red cutting board for Garlic Parmesan Orzo

7. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan on medium heat and then will be for the spinach to wilt.

melting butter in small saucepan on stove

8. Add garlic to the melted butter and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

sauté garlic in melted butter
Melted butter and garlic sautéing is the most delicious smell ever!

9. Add chopped spinach to the garlic and sauté until wilted 2 to 5-minutes, stirring often. Then turn off heat and let spinach sit in the pan on the heat. The spinach will reduce to less than a cup. Because the spinach will reduce in size, this pan does not have to be huge, so you can even have a saucepan or one with taller sides.

10. When orzo is cooked and not crunchy, add the spinach and stir until combined.

11. Shred parmesan cheese with a box grater and then set aside.

12. Finally, sprinkle the top of the Orzo Pasta with Parmesan cheese. If desired, cover with the lid and let the cheese melt before serving.

Serve and enjoy!!!
~Monica

Garlic Parmesan Orzo Pasta

Ingredients

4 Tbsp butter
1 cup uncooked orzo
14-ounce water
2 tsp chicken base
1 Tbsp minced garlic
10-ounce spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Garlic Parmesan Orzo Directions

1. In a large pan melt 2 Tbsp butter on medium heat.
2. To the melted butter, add orzo and then mix into butter. Cook until browned while stirring often.
3. Add water and chicken base, or chicken stock and then bring to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat and then simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Rinse spinach and chop into small pieces, then set aside.
6. Peel, smash and mince garlic, then set aside.
7. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan on medium heat.
8. Add garlic to the melted butter and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
9. Add chopped spinach to the garlic and sauté until wilted 2 to 5-minutes, stirring often. Then turn off the heat and let spinach wilt in the pan on the warm burner.
10. When the orzo is cooked and not crunchy, add the spinach and stir until combined.
11. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese and if desired, cover the pan with a lid and let it rest before serving.

Published by Monica's Scratch Kitchen

I have not always had the skills to cook and bake from scratch. As a young wife, I bought every meal frozen or boxed and presented it to my husband with a flourish, believing myself a decadent cook. As our budget shrunk, and our family grew, I looked for ways to stretch our money to nourish our kids with the best for their hungry appetites. Hoping to find recipes and meals that they would love to eat. Through the last 5 years, I have learned so many cooking and baking lessons, and experienced many wins and failures. Come along with me on this journey as I share my recipes that work, how to make them on the cheap, and my tips and tricks to get my kids to eat homemade deliciousness! I will also share updates to our house that we have done in the last year since our move. With one income, we do most of the work ourselves and with amazing family and friends to help out, cutting costs but keeping style and money in the bank! I am a wife and mother of 3 boys and 1 princess. When I was a kid, I remember being asked what I wanted to be or do when I grew up. My response was, "a mom", and I am proud to grow up and be a mom to 4 amazing kids! Samuel is 11, Matthew is 8, Levi is 4, and Elliana is almost 2. We have been blessed to have kids who love to explore foods, to try new recipes, and enjoy helping us around the house. With 4 kids, you better believe they help clean! My husband Tyler and I have been married almost 13 years. We love our kids, we love outdoors, camping, canoeing, grilling, watching movies, and just hanging out making memories. A few years ago I gifted Tyler with his own "menu" book, where we write meals and foods we have loved to eat. Weekly our family decides what our meals will be and I make up a grocery list with what we need. It literally is my favorite chore! I love to shop, so shopping for food on a budget is my biggest win! Thank you for taking the time and visiting my site, Subscribe so you do not miss a post! Keep coming back to hear about new recipes, updates on our home, fun times with our kids, and how to make homemade deliciousness! ~Monica

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