Greek Beef Orzo

Greek Beef Orzo

I grew up eating a ground beef/tomato/saltandpepper/onion/celery/elbow macaroni skillet dish that my dad had learned to make from his mother. I think we called it hamburger casserole. I loved it - simple, clean, a little veg, a little meat, a little noodle. Economical too. This dish reminds me of that but with MUCH more flavor. It has tremendous flavor - sightly spicy, layered - delicious. I thought the cinnamon would bother me (I have an aversion to sweet mixed with savory and cinnamon makes me think dessert) but it didn't. It's served over bright lemony orzo pasta which adds another blanket of yum to an already flavorful dish. Ditto the feta and olives you sprinkle on top. Don't skip any of it.

I wish I'd come up with this but those honors go to Emily over at FiveandSpice. She won a contest with it for "best cheap feast" over at Food52. Completely deserving. She made hers with ground lamb.  I made mine with ground beef. With these flavors you can't go wrong.

Greek Beef Orzo 

From FiveandSpice via Food52
Serves 6-8

1 lb. ground beef (I used grass-fed) or lamb
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
7 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand
1 14 oz. can mini-diced tomatoes and their juices
5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped

1 lb. orzo pasta
2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/4 cup kalamata olive, slivered

1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil to a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add beef, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and cook until brown, breaking up with a fork or spoon. Remove to a plate and drain all but 2 tablespoon fat from the pan (I had to add some olive oil because my meat was so lean).

2. Add onions and garlic and saute until softened - about 5-10 minutes.

3. Add all spices and saute for another few minutes until fragrant.

4. Add drained and crushed tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes.

5. Add diced tomatoes and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

6. Add ground beef back in, cover pot and let simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the chopped spinach and stir until wilted.

7. Meanwhile make the orzo in large pot of heavily salted (1 tablespoon) water until tender. Drain and toss with lemon juice, olive oil and parsley.

8. Put orzo on a platter and scoop meat sauce over. Sprinkle with feta and olives.

If you live in Mpls, get your feta and olives here 


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