Cheesy Broccoli Orzo Recipe

Yields: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (16 ounces) orzo pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk (or half and half for extra richness)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

1. Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

2. Sauté the vegetables: While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broccoli florets.

3. Build the sauce: Add the broth, salt, and pepper to the skillet with the vegetables. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender-crisp.

4. Melt the cheese: Reduce heat to low. Stir in the milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Gradually add the cheddar cheese, stirring continuously until melted and smooth. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until incorporated.

5. Combine and finish: Add the cooked orzo to the cheese sauce. If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper as needed.

6. Serve: Serve immediately while warm and enjoy!

Tips and Customization

Cheese Choices: Experiment with other cheeses like Monterey Jack, Gruyere, or Gouda.

Add-ins: Stir in chopped spinach, roasted red peppers, or cooked chicken for extra flavor and protein.

Herbs and spices: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat, or fresh herbs like thyme or basil for brightness.

Crunchy topping: Sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs or pine nuts for texture.

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