A comforting, vegetarian midweek meal

When you need a comforting dish, try this baked orzo, spinach, and ricotta dish

  • SERVES: 2
  • PREP TIME: 10 mins
  • COOKING TIME: 20 mins
  • IDEAL FOR: midweek meal, family, meat-free
  • DIFFICULTY: easy

Do I have to use orzo pasta?

Ah, no.

But it’s small and perfect for whipping this dish up for a midweek meal.

I actually had to up the recipe last minute to cater to 4 people.

And I only had orecchiette pasta in the cupboard.

I worked perfectly.

But if you use different pasta, you may need to adjust the cooking time a little.

It may take a little longer than using orzo pasta.

What is orzo?

Orzo, Italian for “barley” – looks like the grain with its small rice shape.

It’s classified as “pastina” — a category of tiny shapes commonly used for soups.

Orzo pasta is made with semolina flour (made of durum wheat).

Despite its similarities to rice, it’s not gluten-free.

Orecchiette – ‘Little ears’ pasta

Orecchiette (pronounced o-rek-kyet-teh).

And named for their shape, which looks like little ears.

It’s made only from semolina, water, and salt.

And their rough surface holds onto sauces which is perfect for a dish like this.

Baked orzo, spinach, and ricotta recipe

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 60 g black olives, stones removed and cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Lemon zest
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or dried)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • X 1 400 g tin diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 100 g ricotta (or feta) crumbled


  1. Heat oven to 210C/350F degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat and add the onions – cook until soft – then add the minced garlic for another minute.
  3. Add the olives, some lemon zest, tomato puree and tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano and the orzo.
  4. Simmer, stirring occasionally for approx. 8 mins or until the orzo is almost cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
  5. Stir in the spinach and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, until they are wilted.
  6. Transfer the orzo to a baking dish and top evenly with crumbled ricotta (or feta)
  7. Bake for 5 – 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with salad or crusty bread.

For more tasty vegetarian recipes, visit here.

Baked orzo, spinach and ricotta


Recipe inspired by Riverford

The Spruce Eats