Toasted Orzo and Spinach Casserole

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.


  • 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.

Steam spinach, covered, over simmering water for about 10 minutes until wilted.  Press and drain excess water.  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.

Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish.  Add crumb topping.

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.

Makes 6 servings

orzo-botClick on pictures to enlarge.

Won Ton Ravioli with Wine Sauce


This recipe is adapted from one in Susan Branch’s book, Vineyard Seasons.  I made a note in my recipe binder:

“Made for Sunday dinner 8/22/93.  My daughters and I agreed it was one of the best things we have had in a long while.  I only made about 15 (instead of 24 as shown in recipe) but that was plenty.  Served with homemade French garlic bread and strawberry/kiwi drinks plus blackberry/apple pie.  A sumptuous repast.”

Note that making the ravioli is easy but time-consuming.  The ravioli can be made ahead and refrigerated  until time to steam or they can be steamed ahead of time and then warmed for about 3 minutes in a steamer.  Both versions can be frozen, allowed to come to room temperature and then steamed (8 minutes for raw ravioli, 3 minutes for steamed)..


  • ½ lb. ricotta cheese (or half of a 15 oz container)
  • 2 Tbsp. basil pesto
  • 24 won ton wrappers
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, minced
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

Mix together ricotta and pesto.


Lay out 6 won ton wrappers at a time on a piece of waxed paper and put a rounded tsp. of pesto mixture in the center of each won ton wrapper.

Dip your finger in a glass of water and moisten the edges of the wrappers.  Fold diagonally, press edges together.


Keep finished ravioli under damp cloth.  When all are done, place as many as can fit, without touching, into an oiled steamer basket.  Steam over boiling water, covered, for 8 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, remove ravioli one at a time and place on a plate.  Cover plate and keep in a warming oven (170 degrees F) until ready to serve.

While ravioli is steaming, make the sauce by melting butter in oil in a small skillet over medium low heat.  Saute garlic for 1-2 minutes, add wine and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in basil and lemon juice.  Place 6 ravioli on each of 4 serving plates and pour over sauce.  Top with a grating of black pepper and toasted pine nuts.

Servings:  4 – serve with some good bread for sopping up the sauce. 

Bean and Biscuit Bake

This recipe was adapted from one I saw on Pioneer Woman Cooks in 2010.  This makes a hearty and filling lunchtime dish.  I made mine in individual casseroles, but a  9-inch casserole dish would work just as well.


* 1 tsp. olive oil
* ½ cup onion, chopped
* 1 clove garlic chopped
* ½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
* 1 Tblsp. dark brown sugar
* ½ teaspoons black pepper
* 1 teaspoon dry mustard
* 1 Tblsp. red wine vinegar
* 1 Tblsp. molasses
* ½ cup catsup
* 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
* 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
* 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
* 8 oz. can tomato sauce

* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1-½ tsp. baking powder
* ½ teaspoon salt
* 2 Tblsp. shortening or butter
* ¼ cup plus 2 Tblsp. milk

Preheat oven to 400° F.
Spray 4 individual casserole dishes

In a medium skillet heat oil over medium heat, saute onions, garlic and bell pepper for about 10 minutes until vegetables are soft.

Add brown sugar, black pepper, mustard, vinegar, molasses, catsup, Worcestershire sauce, pinto and cannellini beans, and tomato sauce.  Let simmer while preparing the biscuit topping.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; stir to blend. Cut in shortening/butter until mixture is consistency of coarse meal.  Add milk and stir with a fork until soft dough forms.

Place bean mixture into four casserole dishes.  Divide dough into four parts and in your hands form a biscuit about 2-½ inches x ½ inch thick.  Place on top of bean mixture.

Bake @ 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Yield:  4 servings

According to my DietPower software, each serving is 300 calories.