The Instant Pot is helpful not only for making cooking times shorter with things like stew or tough cuts of meat, it can also help you get pasta and side dishes on the table lickety-split. Take this delicious Lemon Spinach Orzo as an example. It’s a one pot wonder that comes together in just twenty minutes of cooking time and is even hearty enough to work as a main dish if you want it to. Thanks to the magic of the Instant Pot, you don’t have to stand stirring over a hot stove… just set it, walk away, and come back to a delicious dish!
One of my favorite features of the Instant Pot is that it has a sauté function built right into it, and this recipe makes great use of it. Here it allows you to build flavor by cooking some onions in butter until they’ve softened, and then you stir in the orzo and stock in before using the pressure cooking function and you don’t have to dirty another pot to do it.
You’ll only set the orzo to cook for five minutes, but because of the liquid in the dish it will take a bit to build up pressure, so you’re looking at maybe twenty minutes of cooking time total. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a pretty sweet spot for cooking time and it’s even better when you don’t have to stand around waiting for anything to cook.
After the pressure has released, you’ll stir in some spinach, parmesan, and lemon juice and you’re ready to serve. The residual heat just wilts the spinach and melts the parm, so you get a slightly creamy texture and a nutty hint of cheese, but nothing that will overwhelm the dish.
It’s a quick dish and it’s one with great bright flavor and it’s versatile too – you can serve this warm or you can chill it and serve it as more of a pasta salad. Main dish, side dish, or potluck pick, this works pretty much anywhere you want to serve it!
Instant Pot Lemon Spinach Orzo
5m prep time
20m cook time
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 1/2 cups orzo
- 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Set the Instant Pot to 'sauté'. Add butter and onions and cook until starting to soften, about 2 minutes.
- Add lemon zest and orzo, and season with salt and pepper. Press 'cancel' button.
- Add stock, stir to combine, and cover. Close lid, making sure valve is set to 'sealing.'
- Set to cook on Manual, High Pressure for 5 minutes.
- Once cooking time is up, change valve to 'venting' to the quick release method to release pressure. (Do not use natural release as orzo will become over cooked.)
- Open lid, and stir in Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and spinach. Stir until cheese has melted and spinach has wilted. Adjust seasoning as needed and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Instant Pot Eats.