Cheesy Tomato Basil Baked Orzo.
This cheesy tomato basil baked orzo is a comforting, cozy side dish that is super versatile and delicious. All the delicious flavors of tomato and basil with tender orzo and lots of parmesan.
Hello orzo lovers!
Today we’re making cheesy tomato basil orzo, which is warm and comforting but also touched with the flavors of summer. It’s the biggest hit and you won’t be able to stop digging in with a spoon!
This is the side dish to end all side dishes for me! Well, okay – at least a baked one.
Remember my parmesan orzo? Ooooh yes it’s a good one. And you make it all on the stovetop.
This is not that. This one is super cheesy, tomato-y and baked until creamy and melty and gooey and perfect. It’s more filling than my parmesan orzo but not quite as versatile.
I mean, okay, it’s delicious and maybe that means it’s versatile because let’s be real: it’s eat-it-every-day-good. But since it’s tomato basil-ish, it goes with less. You know? It’s just not a blank slate, and I love that about it.
I realize that this could be a wintery comfort food side dish. But it’s also very much warm-weatherish, aside from that whole having to turn on the oven thing. So go ahead and make this a few times over the next couple weeks before it hits 90! The tomato basil flavor is so special and delish.
And I can’t get over how good the orzo is, if only because you’re constantly trying to decide “is it pasta?” or “is it rice?” and then you can totally pass it off as whichever you choose. Of course we know it’s pasta, but it takes on the feel of a rice dish much more than a super cheesy baked pasta, like this one. You know?
Here’s how I make it! It’s so incredibly easy.
- I toast my orzo in some butter, just like I do with the parmesan orzo. This is key because it adds so much depth of flavor. So toasty and delicious! Garlic too.
- I add in marinara sauce and chicken stock, then I bake it.
- After that, I stir it a bit, add a little more stock, a lot of cheese and finish the bake for another ten minutes or so.
- Toppings include lots of parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes and fresh basil. It’s a dream!
Seriously, I cannot get over how good this is. I know I’m really having a moment with orzo this year and orzo-ing all the things. Don’t pass this one up! It’s so creamy and cheesy and flavorful.
If you’re looking for dinner ideas to serve with this, I suggest my grilled chicken parmesan, chicken romano meatballs or even serving it as a main dish with the howsweeteats house salad! I could easily enjoy a bowl of this for dinner, and I love it paired with a big greens salad. One of the perfect meals in my opinion.
Just look at that stretchy melty cheese!
I love sharing staples like this, the meals that we enjoy so much. Even better when everyone is on board and adores them too. This one is a keeper!
Cheesy Tomato Basil Baked Orzo
Cheesy Tomato Basil Baked Orzo
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 16 ounces uncooked orzo
- kosher salt and pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 1 ½ cups grated mozzarella or italian blend cheeses
- parmesan cheese, for topping
- crushed red pepper, for topping
- fresh basil, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Melt the butter in an oven-safe skillet or dutch oven. Stir in the orzo and the garlic with the basil and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the orzo for a few minutes, stirring often, to toast it.
- Pour in 1 ½ cups of the stock and the marinara sauce. Stir well. Place the skillet in the oven, uncovered, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the liquid is mostly absorbed.
- Remove the skillet and stir the orzo. Add the remaining ½ cup of stock. Stir in 1 cup of the grated cheese. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top. Stick the skillet back in the oven and bake for 10 more minutes.
- Remove the skillet and top with parmesan, fresh basil and crushed red pepper before serving.