April 6, 2022

Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Orzo

Creamy, packed with a TON of flavor, and ready in 15 minutes. Did I mention it is made with almost entirely pantry ingredients.

Picture this, it’s 5 pm and you haven’t given a thought to what’s for dinner. You don’t want take out, but you also don’t want to cook anything. This super creamy sun dried tomato orzo is ready in 15 minutes and uses almost all pantry/staple ingredients. That’s right no heavy cream here, not a splash. Instead this luscious orzo dish gets its creamy texture from a little bit of cream cheese tossed in at the end. I have never been one to have cream cheese lying in my fridge, but after making this dish countless times it has become a staple, JUST to make this weeknight, anytime pasta.

WAIT CREAM CHEESE?

There are a few ways to make a dish creamy. A roux, heavy cream, and adding a creamy cheese are some of the main ways. In this recipe this “creamy cheese” just happens to be cream cheese. In a past life I was a big believer that cream cheese only belonged on bagels, and the occasional dessert. I hate to admit I was wrong. Adding cream cheese to this dish not only adds a creamy element, but also a slight tang that cuts into the richness of the sauce. Not only that but it is an easy add and extremely convenient. No need to simmer down, just add and watch the sauce turn creamy.

up close shot of creamy sun dried tomato orzo

WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR SUN DRIED TOMATO ORZO

  • Pasta -Players choice here, but this sauce is great on a small pasta such as orzo.
  • Cream Cheese– Buy the block instead of a tub, if possible. The recipe calls for 2 oz of cream cheese and those aluminum foil wrapped blocks are marked with oz. If all you can get is the tub use 4 tbsp.
  • Garlic – Fresh is best!
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes– Surprisingly this is another staple in my fridge. They last a long time and are easy way to add flavor to a dish. Whole dried are preferred. If opting for jared and stored in oil look for ones that are NOT marinated.
  • Tomato Paste
  • Dried Basil
  • Dried Oregano
  • Pasta Water – You’ll want to save more than you might need. Save 1 1/2 cups of pasta water, when adding the water into the sauce add 1 cup. If the pasta isn’t as saucy as you would like add more later on.
  • Dried Red Chili Flakes– Completely optional, add if you like a little heat.
plates of creamy sun dried tomato orzo

HOW TO MAKE SUN DRIED TOMATO ORZO

Prepare the Pasta – Cook the pasta in salty water as per packaging instructions. When the pasta is done reserve 1 1/2 cups of pasta water before straining. Place both on the side for later.

Sauté the Base – While the pasta is cooking add 1 tbsp of oil to a pot over low-medium heat. Once heated up add garlic and sun dried tomatoes. Saute for 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant but not brown. If the garlic begins to brown lower the heat. Add the dried spices and the tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes.

Make it a Sauce – Add 1 cup of pasta water and whisk to combine. Simmer sauce for 7-8 minutes with the lid on, checking every 2-3 minutes to stir. Add cream cheese and mix to combine thoroughly. It is best to add the cream cheese at room temperature, however if you don’t have time don’t fret. The cream cheese may just take a longer time to incorporate. Judge is you need to add more pasta water. Add the pasta and serve immediately.

Want to make this more substantial? This dish is great with grilled chicken. When I want really flavorful chicken I like to make a quick 15 minute marinade. Coat the chicken using Italian or Greek dressing, some onion salt, garlic salt, and pepper. Let the chicken sit for 15-20 minutes before grilling.

STORING/REHEATING

Like most pasta dishes this creamy orzo dish is best served and enjoyed immediately. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. My favorite pasta reheating hack is to reheat in a pan with a few tbsp of pasta water. Freeze excess pasta water in mini ice cube trays, when ready to reheat pop in an ice cube or a few depending on the size and allow the pasta to rehydrate.

Made this and have extra sun dried tomatoes? I have a few recipes that can help you out.

Spicy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta (the spicy cousin of this recipe)
Tuscan Shrimp
Pesto Rosso

April 6, 2022

Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Orzo

Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Super creamy sun dried tomato orzo is ready in 15 minutes and uses almost all pantry/staple ingredients.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Pasta, Red Sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 3/4 box orzo
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 sun dried tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup pasta water reserve 1 1/2 cups
  • 2 oz cream cheese room temp

Instructions

  • Prepare pasta as per packaging in salty water. Right before you drain it save 1 1/2 cups of pasta water. Drain and put on the side for later.
  • In a pot over low-medium heat add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Once heated up add garlic and sun dried tomatoes. Saute for 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant but not brown.
  • Add spices and tomato paste and combine. cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of pasta water and whisk to combine. Simmer sauce for 8-10 minutes with the lid on, checking every 2-3 minutes to stir.
  • Add cream cheese and mix to combine thoroughly. *Note is cream cheese is not at room temp it might melt in clumps. No fear, keep mixing it will eventually incorporate into the sauce. If the sauce is to thick add more pasta water.
  • Add cooked orzo, mix to combine and enjoy!

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