This cozy and comforting baked orzo is loaded with tomatoes and spinach, then topped with creamy feta and seasoned breadcrumbs. It makes a wonderful vegetarian main or side dish!
This post is sponsored by Cakebread Cellars. All opinions are my own.
I must be having a moment with feta because this is my second recipe in a row featuring it. I love how its briny quality punches up the flavor of my dishes, and today’s cozy recipe is no exception. I’m partnering with Cakebread Cellars from Napa Valley to bring you this flavorful Baked Orzo with Spinach and Feta that would work equally well as a fall/winter side dish or as a stand alone vegetarian meal!
Either way, Cakebread’s 2016 Merlot is a surefire pairing to go with this Mediterranean inspired dish. It has intense aromas of black cherry and blackberry complemented by light herbal notes, which go well with the oregano in this dish. This silky, supple Merlot is a wonderful wine to serve with comforting baked dishes such as this one as we approach the colder months.
Cakebread Cellars is a family owned winery founded in 1973. With now over 560 vineyard acres in the Carneros, Rutherford, Howell Mountain and Anderson Valley regions of Napa Valley, they have since earned a reputation for producing world-class wines. Both the winery and vineyards are green-certified, with the vineyards being farmed either organically or sustainably. This is something I was delighted to discover since it’s something I consider when purchasing any product these days.
Reasons to love this orzo recipe
- This baked orzo has got that stick-to-your-ribs goodness factor, yet it is loaded with healthy veggies like tomatoes and spinach.
- It’s topped with fresh cherry tomatoes, feta and homemade seasoned breadcrumbs for tons of texture and flavor.
- It makes a wonderful side dish to bring to a fall potluck or holiday gathering, but also works just as well as a vegetarian main course. I should know, I’ve been enjoying it for lunch and dinner the last couple of days!
- Leftovers hold up really well in the fridge and reheat easily!
How to make Baked Orzo with Spinach and Feta
Start by seasoning the breadcrumbs and toasting them in a skillet, to get that easy step out of the way. I love using panko breadcrumbs because I find that they add that super crunchy texture I’m looking for, but plain or homemade breadcrumbs work just as well.
Next you’ll want to sauté the onions and garlic with some olive oil, and add the orzo to toast it up a bit. Then the broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper are added to the pot. Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook it until most of the liquid is absorbed. In the last minute or two of cooking, toss in the spinach and cook until it has wilted.
The last step is to transfer it to a baking dish and top it with the breadcrumbs, halved cherry tomatoes and feta. This layer packs in so much flavor! Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, and you can set the oven to broil during the last couple of minutes if you’re all about that browned topping (just make sure to keep an eye on it!)
What to pair with baked orzo
This baked orzo is so delicious by itself, but even better when paired with a bold, structured red wine with a silky finish such as Cakebread Cellars 2016 Merlot. However, it’s versatile enough to be served with white wine too! A medium bodied Chardonnay would hold up to the creamy feta in this dish.
In terms of food, you could serve this orzo with anything from grilled chicken or shrimp to roasted salmon or halibut. it would also be lovely with a simple green salad served on the side.
- If feta isn’t your jam, try swapping it out in favor of goat cheese, parmesan or burrata.
- If you’re looking to keep this meal vegan, simply omit the cheese or use a vegan cheese substitute. I recently discovered this vegan feta and I am obsessed!
- You can transform this into a one pot meal by tossing in some shrimp just before transferring it to the oven. You may need to adjust the baking time by a few minutes to ensure that the shrimp is fully cooked.
- If you don’t have orzo, you can substitute another smaller variety of pasta.
Special thanks to Cakebread Cellars for partnering with me on this post! You can learn more about their winery and vineyards on their website.
Thanks for reading Le Petit Eats! To keep up with my kitchen escapades, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. If you make this Baked Orzo, don’t forget to share it using the hashtag #LePetitEats!
Baked Orzo with Spinach and Feta
This cozy baked orzo is loaded with tomatoes and spinach, then topped with feta and seasoned breadcrumbs. It makes a wonderful vegetarian main or side dish!
for the breadcrumbs:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper optional
- Pinch of salt
for the baked orzo:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small red onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 1/2 cups orzo
- 2 1/4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano plus more for garnish
- 2 cups packed baby spinach
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/3 cup feta crumbled
In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over low heat. Add breadcrumbs, oregano, crushed red pepper and salt to a bowl and mix to combine. Add to skillet and cook, stirring, for about 2-3 minutes or until breadcrumbs are evenly toasted and golden in color. Set aside.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Add two tablespoons olive oil to a large stockpot. over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and orzo and cook for another minute or two, stirring often. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.
Add vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and vinegar to the pot and bring to a boil, then lower heat to a gentle simmer. Stir in salt, pepper and oregano and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout so the orzo cooks evenly. Stir in the spinach and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, until they are wilted.
At this point most of the liquid should be absorbed and the orzo should be al dente. Transfer orzo to a baking dish and top evenly with breadcrumbs, cherry tomato halves and feta. Bake for 15 minutes. Broil on for another 3-5 minutes if browning is desired. Remove from oven and garnish with fresh oregano leaves before serving.