Baked Orzo with Pesto, Peas, Prosciutto and Mascarpone is a lovely Italian-inspired spring main dish or side dish that’s easily made ahead of time!
Spring is crazy early this year here! My husband harvested our first asparagus spear yesterday and our chives and mint are peaking their lovely flavorful heads out of the ground.
As I mentioned in the Butternut Squash, Leek and Gruyere Tart post, we’re really feeling the pressure of using up what we froze or stored from last growing season. We still have tons of basil pesto in our freezer so I loved being able to use an entire container of it here.
I love orzo pasta. It’s shaped like rice, but it cooks much faster than rice. I had cooked orzo in my freezer, so the amount I stated in the recipe is approximate.
Simply adjust the cream, half-and-half and mascarpone up or down. This recipe is very forgiving and will also work with any small pasta shape such as shells or ditalini. You could certainly use rice, too!
Mascarpone is simply Italian cream cheese. It’s a bit more expensive than traditional American-style cream cheese but it’s a lovely addition to this dish. Whipped cream cheese will also work and feel free to substitute diced ham for the prosciutto.
Not everyone has prosciutto and mascarpone cheese on hand, but I’m one of those bizarre people who often will!
If you’re not a “pea person,” spinach or broccoli would also work. Hmmm….. How about spinach or broccoli pesto? See? This baked orzo dish is forgiving and totally adaptable.
With all the pounding, sawing and commotion around here, I think it will be a perfect day to work outside!
For more cheesy baked pasta dishes, be sure to try my:
- Spaghetti Pie with Three Cheeses
- Baked Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Bacon and Taleggio
- Tomato-Topped Hatch Green Chile Mac and Cheese
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- Non-stick cooking spray
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups COOKED orzo pasta (approximately 2 cups dry orzo pasta)
- 1 cup peas, fresh or thawed if frozen
- 3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
- 3/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- 3/4 cup prepared pesto
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a small baking dish (like an 8 x 8-inch square) with cooking spray.
- Combine cooked orzo, peas, prosciutto, cream or half-and-half, pesto, mascarpone and half the Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Transfer to prepared baking dish. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbling. Let rest 5 minutes then serve.
Prep time does not including boiling the orzo. Add 20 minutes.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1134Total Fat: 52gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 117mgSodium: 1075mgCarbohydrates: 129gFiber: 7gSugar: 8gProtein: 37g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.