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garlic parmesan orzo pasta in a bowl

Spinach Garlic Parmesan Orzo with Crispy Bacon

Easy, flavorful spinach garlic parmesan orzo pasta with crispy bacon and gorgeous veggies like red bell pepper, carrots, and spinach. This healthy 30-minute dinner is perfect for meal prep and delicious hot or cold!
Course 30 min or less, Dinner, Pasta
Keyword parmesan orzo pasta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 436 kcal
Author Monique of AmbitiousKitchen.com

Ingredients

  • 8 slices bacon
  • 10 ounces uncooked orzo pasta (about 1 2/3 cup uncooked orzo)
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, after pasta is done boiling
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup shredded carrots (or carrots cut into matchsticks)
  • 2/3 cup frozen or fresh sweet corn
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 (5 ounce) package organic spinach
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes, plus more if desired
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • To garnish: Fresh flat-leaf parsley + extra parmesan cheese, corn and bacon on top

Instructions

  1. Add bacon to a large skillet or pan and place over medium heat, cook bacon on both sides until crispy and golden brown. If the pan starts to smoke at any point, simply lower the heat. I always cook my bacon on medium low heat. Once bacon is done, blot with a paper towel to absorb excess grease, then chop into bite sized pieces and set aside.
  2. While the bacon is cooking, place a large pot of water over high heat and add in a generous amount of salt. Once water boils, stir in the orzo and cook until al dente about 7-9 minutes. Once orzo is done cooking, drain pasta and set aside in the colander. Make sure to reserve ½ cup of the pasta water.
  3. Next add 1 tablespoon butter to the same pot you cooked the pasta in and place over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add in minced garlic, carrot, corn, red bell pepper and saute for 2 minutes. 
  4. Next add in spinach; cooking until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Add the cooked orzo back into the pot and turn the heat to low. Stir in the reserved pasta water, parmesan, garlic powder and red chili pepper flakes. 
  5. Finally, stir in bacon crumbles. Add salt and pepper to taste. I like to add A LOT of black pepper into this dish -- it just gives it a really nice flavor! If you think it needs a little extra parmesan cheese, feel free to stir in 1/4 cup more. Enjoy. Serves 4.

Recipe Notes

If you don't want to use bacon, you can easily use 4 chicken sausages instead; just slice into rounds, saute in pan, then stir into pasta like you would the bacon.

If you want to make this vegetarian, I think a can of rinsed and drained white beans or even roasted, crunchy chickpeas would be a really nice option.

Feel free to use a different pasta, such as orecchiette or angel hair pasta. I prefer orzo because it keeps the pasta nice and creamy. Feel free to add in more veggies.

Nutrition Facts
Spinach Garlic Parmesan Orzo with Crispy Bacon
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 436 Calories from Fat 120
% Daily Value*
Fat 13.3g20%
Saturated Fat 6.2g39%
Carbohydrates 62.7g21%
Fiber 4.5g19%
Sugar 2.6g3%
Protein 20.2g40%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.