Orzo with Spinach, Goat Cheese and Lemon

Summer officially arrived last Wednesday, but it’s been summer here for several weeks now.  Only it really hasn’t.  It’s been this amazing hybrid season that’s given us the best of spring and summer, which has meant warm, sunny days without bugs and humidity.  And you know exactly what that means… lots of evenings out at the grill!

And you already know that this isn’t a post about the next best grilled chicken/ steak/ribs/fish recipe, no sir.  As a self-proclaimed side-dish foodie, I’m here today to help you decide what to serve next to whatever it is you’re about to throw on that grill.  And this orzo is about as good as it gets when it comes to BBQ side dishes.

And that means it must be pretty easy to throw together.  That would be correct.  It must also mean that it’s super delicious, and that would also be correct.  And to be a BBQ side dish of such stature, it must also mean that it can be served warm or room temp.  And this would, of course, also be correct.

I’m assuming that most of you have already cooked with orzo, but if you haven’t, it looks like this…

It cooks up just like pasta, but that’s only because it is pasta… a very little, rice-shaped pasta that cooks in only like 6 minutes, even though the package says 9.  Once it’s cooked, you just mix it with your spinach, goat cheese, lemon, and a little garlic if you like, and let it sit for a few minutes for all the flavors to dance and sing together and then serve.  And enjoy.  Subsequent singing and dancing, totally optional.  Here’s the recipe…

Orzo with Spinach, Goat Cheese and Lemon

Click here for a printable recipe

Makes 4 side dish servings

1 cup orzo 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

5-oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1 garlic clove, minced

2 1/2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled 

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Cook orzo in large saucepan of boiling salted water for 6 to 9 minutes, or until al dente, stirring occasionally, and drain.  Do not rinse.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and sauté briefly.  Add the spinach, goat cheese, salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Stir to combine.    Taste for seasoning.  Stir the cooked orzo into the pan and mix well with the spinach/goat cheese mixture.  Remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Fluff with a fork and serve warm.

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