Parmesan meatballs with creamy orzo is one of my new favorite comfort foods. I love meatballs in all forms. Whether they are served with a creamy sauce, a sweet and sour sauce, or on their own as the main dish.
While the meatballs are baking in the oven, the orzo is cooking in a flavorful mixture of butter, onions, garlic, and chicken stock. Tender meatballs and creamy pasta, it doesn’t get better than that. This is the sort of recipe I like to make for date night. Although it’s quick and easy, it feels festive and special.
Ground Turkey: I typically use lean ground turkey. Ground chicken is also a great option.
Italian Seasoning: A jar of Italian seasonings is an easy way to add flavor. It’s a great option once the weather is cold and fresh herbs aren’t available.
Parmesan Cheese: I pull out my block of fresh parmesan at least three times a week. It adds a sharp, intense flavor to the meatballs.
Zucchini: After making these chicken meatballs, zucchini has become a staple ingredient in many of my meatball recipes. You can’t taste the zucchini, but it makes the meatball so tender and delicious.
Salt & Pepper: Enhances the flavor of the meatballs.
Butter: Used to sauté the onion and garlic and gives the resulting dish richness.
Onion: Use whatever you have on hand. We typically use red onions, but white and yellow onions are also delicious.
Garlic: Adds flavor and wonderful aroma.
Rosemary: This versatile herb goes so well with poultry and pasta.
Orzo: I just saw this article about orzo being the pasta of the summer. It’s wonderful any time of year! It cooks quickly, making it perfect for quick dinner options.
Chicken Stock: We always use low-sodium chicken stock.
Spinach or Kale: I always have fresh spinach and frozen kale in the house. I like the fresh flavor and bright green color these healthy veggies add to the dish.
Sun-Dried Tomatoes: I love sun-dried tomatoes. I can eat them straight out of the package! They add wonderful flavor and a great pop of color to the orzo.
Half & Half: Makes the orzo perfectly creamy.
Start by making the meatballs. Preheat your oven and stir together the turkey, seasonings, Parm, and shredded zucchini. Gently form the mixture into even-sized meatballs. I use a tablespoon, but a cookie scoop is also a good choice. Bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes.
If you prefer this to be a one-skillet dinner, you could pan-fry the meatballs. (See the notes section in the recipe.) If I am making this dish in the summer and I don’t want to turn on the oven, I will choose to use this method. Turkey meatballs tend to fall apart quite easily compared to their beef counterparts, so I prefer to bake them.
While the meatballs are baking, sauté your onions in butter. Add garlic and rosemary, followed by the orzo and chicken stock. Stir occasionally while the orzo cooks. This will take 8-10 minutes.
Once the meatballs are baked, add to the skillet along with spinach, tomatoes, and half & half. Stir until the entire dish is heated through.
Sprinkle your parmesan meatballs with creamy orzo with a little extra parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Parmesan Meatballs with Creamy Orzo
- ½ pound ground turkey or chicken
- 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese shredded
- ¼ cup zucchini grated
- salt and black pepper
- 1 tsp butter
- ¼ cup onion diced
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary
- ½ cups dry orzo pasta
- 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
- ½ cup frozen spinach or kale
- ¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- ¼ cup half & half
- Add the ground turkey, Italian seasoning, parmesan, and grated zucchini, to a bowl. Season with salt, and pepper. Mix to combine. Using a tablespoon, form the mixture into 8-9 meatballs.
- Bake the meatballs in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
- Add butter in the skillet. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary.
- Stir in the orzo and chicken stock. Cook, stirring occasionally, another 8-10 minutes, until the orzo is tender. Stir in the cooked meatballs, spinach, tomatoes, and half & half.
- Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve immediately.