Creamy Spinach and Lemon Orzo

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Here is a quick and easy, 20 minute, Creamy Spinach and Lemon Orzo recipe with butter and parmesan cheese sauce (no cream). It makes a delicious vegetarian dinner and a simple side dish to accompany any meal.

Creamy Lemon Spinach Orzo Pasta in a bowl with a fork
Plate of Creamy Lemon Spinach Orzo
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A meal the entire family will love and one that is great to make on a busy weeknight.

If you love lemon, try Lemon Butter Pasta Sauce (Pasta al Limone), Easy Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Asparagus, Creamy Spinach and Lemon Orzo, and Best Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust!

Learn more about the Difference between Orzo and Risotto!

Creamy Spinach and Lemon Orzo

This creamy orzo recipe is completely satisfying and comforting without leaving you feeling heavy.

It’s packed with fresh spinach, parmigiano cheese, and just enough lemon zest to tease your taste buds. It is creamy without using heavy cream!

Creamy Lemon Spinach Orzo is a refreshing, light side dish or main course. 

Simple Ingredients

This creamy orzo pasta only requires a handful of ingredients for a fabulous meal!

  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Lemon zest
  • Orzo pasta
  • Parmigiano or parmesan cheese

See the recipe card for quantities.

Family Friendly Meal

Creamy Lemon Spinach orzo is an easy family meal that hits the jock-pot time and time again. Even picky eaters will eat spinach when it’s cooked with creamy parmigiano and orzo!

It is also a perfect meal for busy weeknights as it comes together in

How to make Creamy Spinach and Lemon Orzo

This easy recipe will make dinner tonight a little bit easier!

1- Boil the orzo until ‘al dente’ as on the package instructions. Read How Long to Boil Pasta- Perfect Every Time for reference.

2- Heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet pan over medium-high heat until butter is barely melted. Add the onion and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and garlic then season with salt and pepper. Stir often and cook about 5-8 minutes until the spinach is tender. Turn heat to low temperature.

3- Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and add to pan with spinach and onion. Add pasta water and remaining butter. Stir for about one minutes on low heat letting the butter, pasta, and spinach combine. Add the parmigiano cheese* and lemon zest. Stir to combine.

Top with more cheese for garnish and serve hot! Mangia (Eat!)

What do we call Orzo in Italy?

In Italian, Orzo, also known as ‘Rossini’, is a pasta traditionally used in soups. Orzo means ” Barley ” in Italian because the pasta resembles an unprocessed grain of barley.

If you love orzo, try this well-loved recipes: Orzo Pasta with Shrimp, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Artichokes and Orzo Pasta with Roasted Vegetables.

This recipe’s simple and fresh ingredients create a delightful marriage of flavors that make this meal easy to love. It is a meal I can eat weekly. I know you will love it too!

Variations

You can try these veggies instead of spinach:

  • VEGETABLES: peas, diced carrots, asparagus, broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, petite diced tomatoes, or mushrooms. 
  • FRESH HERBS: dill, parsley, or fresh basil. 
  • MEAT OR FISH: chicken, meatballs, tuna, or salmon.

If you are looking to add some protein try serving these recipes with the pasta:

Made with Amore, Elena

From my Cucina to your Table, Mangia! Mangia! (Eat!) 

More delicious recipes for you…

The heart of Italian cooking starts with fresh ingredients and simple ingredients! Here is another recipe with similar flavors you will also enjoy- Tortellini Soup with Spinach and Lemon.

This creamy butter lemon spinach orzo pasta dinner is guaranteed on your recurring weekly meal plan. Add it to your list ASAP!

Make sure to leave a ⭐️star rating on the recipe card and comment below if you make the recipe. I love to connect with you through my recipes.

I would love for you to tag me on Instagram @cucinabyelena so I can see your delicious Italian recipes. To get more ideas, follow me on Pinterest.

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Creamy Lemon Orzo Pasta in a pan

Creamy Butter Lemon Spinach Orzo Pasta

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5 from 3 reviews

This orzo pasta is creamy, healthy, and comforting. It’s packed with fresh spinach, parmigiano cheese, and just enough lemon zest to tease your taste buds. The simple and fresh ingredients create a delightful marriage of flavors that make this meal easy to love. It is a meal I can eat on a weekly bases. I know you will love it too! 

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 pound dried orzo pasta (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1.  Bring a medium pot of water to a roaring boil and season with salt. Add orzo and cook until al dente directions.
  2. Heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet pan over medium-high heat until butter is barely melted. Add the onion and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and garlic then season with salt and pepper. Stir often and cook about 5-8 minutes until spinach is tender. Turn heat to low temperature.
  3. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and add to pan with spinach and onion. Add pasta water and remaining butter. Stir for about one minutes on low heat letting the butter, pasta, and spinach combine. Add the parmigiano cheese* and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Top with more cheese for garnish and serve hot! Mangia (Eat!)

Notes

* If you do not use real freshly grated parmigiano cheese your sauce may be lumpy as the cheese will not melt to create a smooth sauce.

  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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6 Comments

  1. We loved this recipe! I tried it for the first time at a family retreat (a special event), and it turned out perfectly without much stress. Orzo is one of my favorite pastas, so anything with it is great, but this recipe was so tasty! The flavors remind me of my Italian mother-in-law’s stracciatella soup–YUM! It’s also so pretty!






    1. You are right! It does resemble stracciatella soup. I love the addition of spinach to this recipe. I’m honored you shared it at a special family event. Take care!

  2. Looking for a quick recipe to make with ingredients on hand, this caught my eye. Simple, fresh and delicious, it was the perfect with grilled fish!