Very Cheesy Orzo Casserole

Never throw away small pieces of leftover cheese again.

cheese, cheesy, cheesy casserole, easy casserole, orzo, Parmesan, quick and easy, squash, summer, zucchini
Serving Size: 8 as a side dish

Cheesy Orzo Casserole

You like cheese, right?  I’m guessing you do, because you are looking at this recipe.

I love cheese and cannot bear to throw away the smallest chunk, so every once in a while I realize the my refrigerator is filled with about 14 kinds of cheese bits and pieces, none of them attractive enough to serve, none of them big enough to make anything with on their own.  And at that moment, it’s either macaroni and cheese time, or time to come up with something new.

This was this month’s something new, the cheese-spiration, if you will.  Even though it’s August, there have been a couple of nights where the temperature has dipped to sweatshirt levels, and a warm cheesy pasta casserole does not seem out of place, not one little bit.

Could you use less cheese in this Very Cheesy Orzo Casserole?  I guess. #notfullyunderstandingthequestion

inside of cheesy orzo casserole

And, caveat emptor, as with any dish you make in the throes of a cheese purification, it will never be replicated exactly the same way again.  You have to just get very zen about this, no matter how much in love you are with what you are eating.  It’s like snowflakes, or sunsets – each one is unique, and you must learn to appreciate, and then say good-bye (cheese makes me very deep sometimes).  #cheesedeep.

Very Cheesy Orzo Casserole


Very Cheesy Orzo Casserole

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 3 zucchini or spaghetti squash, diced
  • 1 pound dried orzo
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth, preferably low-sodium
  • 2 cups shredded cheese of your choice, such as Gruyere, cheddar, Manchego, gouda, or a mixture
  • 4 4 cherry chili peppers, minced (see Note)

Step One. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a shallow 2-quart baking dish or spray it with nonstick cooking spray.

Step Two. In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and squash and sauté for 5 minutes until the onions are golden and the zucchini is tender.

Step Three. Add the orzo, salt and pepper and stir until the orzo is well coated with the oil, about 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes until the orzo is fairly tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the cheese and chili peppers, and turn into the prepared pan.

Step Four. Bake for 20 minutes until the mixture is bubbly around the edges and golden brown on top. Serve hot or warm.

plate of cheesy orzo casserole

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