Three Cheese Spinach Orzo Bake
This rich casserole tastes like a cross between spinach pizza and lasagna. If you have picky eaters, you can make the whole package of orzo and toss the extra orzo with butter or olive oil and serve it separately. But make sure the kids try the casserole ('an adventure bite') as our kids think it tastes like pizza!
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach or use 9 oz. fresh
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 - 1 cup uncooked orzo to yield 1 1/2 cups cooked orzo
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups red pasta sauce (store-bought or homemade) see link below for homemade directions
- 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (or use any variety),
- 1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese (or use any variety)
- Cook the orzo (boil it for 8 minutes or follow the package directions) and drain it.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9-inch pie dish or 8-inch square casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Thaw the spinach in the microwave or on the stovetop and drain it well. (If using fresh spinach, wilt it on the stovetop or in the microwave with 1 Tbsp. water, drain it well, and coarsely chop it.)
- In a medium bowl, combine the orzo, 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce, and the Parmesan cheese.
- Spread the mixture in the bottom of the baking dish.
- In the same bowl, mix the spinach, eggs, ricotta cheese, and nutmeg. Spoon it over the pasta and spread it evenly.
- Spread the remaining red sauce over the spinach mixture.
- Sprinkle it with mozzarella cheese. Bake it, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Serve it hot, or refrigerate it for up to 24 hours, or freeze it for up to 3 months.
Slow Cooker Directions
- Increase red pasta sauce to 2 cups. Do not precook the orzo. Place spinach, eggs, ricotta cheese and nutmeg in the slow cooker and stir to combine. Top with 1 cup red sauce and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. 30 minutes before serving, combine the uncooked orzo, the remaining 1 cup red sauce and the Parmesan cheese. Add to slow cooker, and push it down slightly so that the orzo is absorbed into the liquid. Top with mozzarella cheese and cook on high for 30 minutes. Do ahead: combine the orzo, sauce and Parmesan cheese in a bowl to add to the slow cooker for the last 30 minutes of cooking time (Slow cooker cooking times may vary—Get to know your slow cooker and, if necessary, adjust cooking times accordingly.)
Do Ahead or Delegate: Cook the orzo (toss it with a little oil to prevent sticking), defrost or wilt the spinach, beat (and refrigerate) the eggs, or fully prepare and refrigerate or freeze the dish. Scramble Flavor Booster: Add 1/4 tsp. garlic powder to the egg mixture. Serve it with crushed red pepper flakes. Tip: People sometimes confuse orzo with rice. Orzo is pasta that's shaped like grains of rice. It's a great addition to a variety of recipes, such as soups and pilafs, or nice as a side dish with meat or fish. Nutritional Information Per Serving (% based upon daily values): Calories 240, Total Fat: 9g, 15%; Saturated Fat: 4g, 20%; Cholesterol: 87mg, 29%; Sodium: 533mg, 23%; Total Carbohydrate: 24g, 8%; Dietary Fiber: 3g, 11%; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 15g Like this recipe? Check out The Scramble's family-friendly meal plans to see just how simple getting dinner on the table can be!
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