Orzo is one of my cheater meals where I want risotto, but I don’t have the time to make it for dinner. This meal comes together quick and easy and you can use any type of sausage you want. I just happened to use Italian deer sausage, since that is what I have on hand.

Italian Sausage Orzo
(Adapted from Salt and Lavender)

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16 ounces Italian sausage see note
1/2 medium onion chopped
3-4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional, or more to taste
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy/whipping cream
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
Salt & pepper to taste

Add the sausage meat to a soup pot/Dutch oven. Over medium-high heat, cook it for 5 minutes.

Stir in the onions and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the sausage is nicely browned and the onions have softened.

Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and orzo, and cook for 30 seconds.

Stir in the chicken broth and cream. Once it starts to bubble, continue cooking for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring fairly often (or else the orzo may stick to the bottom of the pot). You will likely need to turn the heat down a bit (to medium or even medium-low). It should gently bubble vs. boil (you don’t want the liquid to reduce too much before the pasta has cooked).

Take the pot off the heat, stir in the parmesan and spinach, and cover the pot for 3-5 minutes or until it has thickened up to your liking. Season with salt & pepper as needed and serve immediately. See more troubleshooting tips in the notes below.

For the sausage, you can use anything in the ballpark of 16 oz/1 lb. Here in Canada I buy a 500g pack of Johnsonville mild Italian sausages and take the meat out of the casings.

As with any one pot pasta dish, the liquid quantities work as tested in my kitchen, but pots/stoves/temperatures can vary, so if you feel like it needs more liquid, add another splash of broth or cream. If it seems too wet, let it sit for a bit longer, and it’ll soak any excess liquid up within a few minutes.

Orzo is pasta. If you want to make this with rice, you may have to adjust liquid measurements and cooking time (I have not tested this).

Serves 4-6 depending on how much people eat/what else it’s served with.

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