I know I don’t post a lot of recipes – only a few, but this Baked Mozzarella Orzo is a recipe that is so good I wanted to share it with you. If you love pasta, mozzarella, and tomatoes you will like this – the addition of chicken broth is what makes it a bit different from a basic pasta and cheese recipe.
I make Baked Mozzarella Orzo whenever I am asked to bring something to a family gathering or party. It is a request from all and has become an all-around favorite of family and friends. I made it last week for Easter. It serves 12 and since there were only 4 of us for dinner, we had yummy leftovers all week long. I think it tastes even better, the next day, warmed up in the microwave.
I found the recipe in a Gourmet magazine cookbook back in the 80’s. The original recipe called for 1/2 pound of Kalamata or black olives. To keep it kid friendly – I have never added the olives. For olive lovers out there – it would probably add that kick that olives give to a dish. You either love it or not – the option is yours.
The recipe is easy to make and does not require every pot in the house – making it my kind of recipe.
The ingredient list is all basic pantry staples. I recommend using College Inn brand chicken broth. It gives the dish a much better flavor. I didn’t have any last weekend when making this, and since it was Easter my local supermarket was closed. I used an organic chicken broth. It still tasted delish, but the College Inn brand makes it taste even better.
Baked Mozzarella Orzo
This is a family favorite that is also a crowd pleaser to take to pot luck parties. It is an upscale or grown-up version of basic macaroni and cheese. It can be made ahead and reheated before serving.
- 1 pound orzo uncooked
- 1-1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup College Inn chicken broth
- 35 ounce can plum tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
- 3/4 pound shredded mozzarella I add more mozzarella, up to 2 cups to get the top extra crusty
In a pot of boiling salted water, boil the orzo until it is al dente, drain it well in a colander.
In a large heavy skillet, cook the onion in the oil and the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is softened, add the celery and cook the mixture, stirring for 5 minutes.
Stir in the flour, cook the mixture, stirring for 3 minutes, and then stir in the broth, the tomatoes, chopping them up with a spoon, the basil, and the cayenne.
Simmer the mixture, stirring, for 5 minutes, stir in the cooked orzo, 1/2 pound of the mozzarella and salt to taste, and transfer the mixture to a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
Add remaining mozzarella over the top of the orzo.
Bake the orzo in the middle of a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until heated through and slightly browned and crisp on top.
Boil the pasta, mix everything else in a large skillet and let it simmer.
Mix it all together in a baking dish.
Add more cheese to the top.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the top gets lightly brown.
It is the perfect potluck as you can make it the day before and bake it right before the party you are taking it to.