I’ve been asked a few times what I feed our rabble of 5 boys; do I have a menu plan? Do they all eat the same thing? The answers are whatever they eat; some weeks if I get my shiz together and NO! We have fussy ones, stubborn ones and I’ll-eat-anything-as-long-as-there’s-lots-of-it ones. But call me a blind optimist or naively hopeful, I persevere and occasionally hit culinary gold with an all-round winner.
This cheesy tomato orzo started life as a Hello Fresh recipe, but has taken on many tweaks and incarnations since to become a firm family favourite in our house. Like a bowl of flavoursome, gooey hugs from Nonna Pina (the boys actual Italian Great-Grandma!), it warms the soul and leaves everyone sated – while secreting a few veggies to tick the responsible parenting boxes!
I love this recipe as it only takes one pot; and bar the mozzarella and something leafy, I’ve usually got all the other bits knocking around in the cupboards – Nigella I am not, my cupboards are not vast catacombs of Pinterest worth larders – so I’d like to think you might have these bits too. If not, don’t panic, I’ve marked the non-negotiable ingredients with NN but everything else, marked O (for optional – see what I’ve done there?!) is interchangeable, replaceable or omittable.
One Pot Pizza Pasta Recipe
Cheesy Tomato Orzo
Serves: 4 | Prep: 5 minutes | Cooking Time: 20 minutes | Difficulty: Piss Easy
Bacon/Pancetta – either 2x of the pre-chopped lardons, or about 10 rashers NN
Cloves of Garlic – x2, finely chopped (or a squirt of garlic puree if you can’t be naffed to chop!) O
Dried Thyme – 1x Tblsp NN
Tomato Puree – 3x Tblesp NN
Orzo – 300g NN
Veg Stock Cube – x1 NN
Boiling Water – 450ml NN
Cherry Tomatoes – 10-15 (small packet) but depend on how likely little fingers are to pick them out (!), chopped into quarters O
Red Pepper – Half, chopped into 1cm cubes O
Tin of Chopped Tomatoes – x1 NN
Frozen Peas – handful/as many as you can hide before the kids will moan! O
Parmesan – 80g/Good handful, grated, plus more for throwing on top if you like it cheesey! NN
Baby Spinach – 4 handfuls, washed NN
Mozzerella – 1 ball, torn into pieces. NN
Salt & Pepper to season O
Heat a large drizzle of olive oil in a large sauce pan, on a medium heat.
Add the stock cube to the boiling water in a jug/bowl and leave to one side.
Once your pan’s hot, add the bacon and stir/cook until crispy (4ish minutes).
Add the chopped garlic (if using) and thyme and stir together for another minute.
Add the tomato puree and stir everything together.
Add the orzo to the pan and mix everything together, coating the orzo in the tomato-ey goodness for another minute.
Slowly add the vegetable stock and stir to combine.
Chuck in the fresh and tinned tomatoes, along with the red pepper (if using), stir and bring everything to the boil.
Lower the heat slightly, and settle in for about 10 minutes of stirring. Scrape along the bottom of the pan regularly to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan – this can happen really quickly.
After 10 minutes, throw in your frozen peas (if using), salt and pepper.
Continue to stir for another 5 minutes.
Once all the liquid has been absorbed by the orzo, check to see if it’s cooked through (take a bite!), if not add a little more water and keep stirring for a few more minutes. Like with all pasta, the cooking times can vary slightly.
Add the mozzarella, Parmesan and spinach. Fold everything together for a few minutes until the spinach has wilted.
Serve up with a sprinkling more Parmesan on top, bearing in mind that this cheesy goodness is really filling!
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