Sunday, November 14, 2010

Baked Creamy Orzo and Spinach

I've been on the hunt for Thanksgiving side recipes for a while now, this one isn't quite what you'd call traditional, but it meets a few criteria: it's easy and fairly quick, it's very good (kind of like a gourmet florentine mac and cheese) and it makes a lot!  The kids and I both loved this... it has a nice contrast of textures, from the velvety softness of the orzo to the creaminess of the cheese and cream to the crunchiness of the onions.  Definitely a keeper for the recipe files!

1 tablespoon salt
1 pound orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
two 10 ounce packages frozen spinach
2 garlic cloves
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup canned chicken broth
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a few handfuls french fried onions

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the salt and orzo and boil 4
minutes. Add the
spinach and cook 5 minutes more or until the orzo is al dente.
Drain the mixture
in a sieve and rinse under cold water. Drain well.

Mince and mash the garlic to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt and
add put it in a
large bowl. Add the cream, broth, cheese, pepper, nutmeg, orzo
and spinach and combine
well. Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until bubbly and beginning to brown a bit.  Sprinkle french fried onions over the top for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.

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