I saw a recipe online which sounded interesting but I had some problems with my first version. I made some changes on a second try that made the dish the way I thought it should be. Toasting the dry orzo only takes 6 minutes and I believe it adds flavor to the pasta when it’s cooked.
I steamed the spinach and pressed out moisture to keep the sauce from having too much liquid. Also changed out the cheese a bit. The casserole really needs to rest 10 minutes before serving and is even better the next day. This makes a very satisfying meatless casserole.
TOASTED ORZO AND SPINACH CASSEROLE
- ½ pound orzo pasta (1 cup)
- 10 oz. bag of fresh baby spinach leaves, rinsed and stems removed
- 3 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
- 1-1/4 cups milk
- 5 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 ounces shredded very sharp cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tblsp. crumbled feta cheese
- ½ tsp. salt
- Grating of black pepper
- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, not drained
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Oil a 9-inch baking dish
Place orzo on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes, stirring after 3 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the toasted orzo pasta until al dente according to package directions (approximately 10 minutes). Drain (but don’t rinse) and set aside.
In a large saucepan, place the flour and whisk in the milk gradually. Cook over medium heat, whisking until the mixture starts to bubble. Continue to whisk for one minute. Remove from heat and add the mozzarella and cheddar cheese a half-cup at a time, stirring to be sure cheese is melted. Stir in feta cheese (may not melt completely).
Stir in salt, pepper, tomatoes and spinach and orzo.
Basil Crumb Topping
- 2 slices of bread, torn into pieces
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
In a food processor, place torn bread pieces and basil leaves. Process until bread is in crumbs and basil is in tiny pieces.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Let dish rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Click on pictures to enlarge.