Cheesy Orzo, Beef, + Tomato Casserole

by Amy on 26 August 2015

Cheesy Orzo, Beef, + Tomato Casserole | www.FearlessHomemaker.comWe like variety in our family dinners. Even if we love a particular recipe, I typically don’t make it again for at least another few weeks, just to keep things interesting. So, when I tell you that I made this recipe for the first time one day, and made it again for dinner a mere eight days later, it means we all thought it was amazing. This casserole is my idea of perfect comfort food – it has pasta, tender beef, lots of melty cheese, bright tomatoes, and a smattering of tasty vegetables and herbs.

This is the type of dish that I appreciate because it’s (of course) delicious hot-and-bubbly fresh out of the oven, but it’s also wonderful as a leftovers lunch, popped in the microwave for a minute or two. Since I work from home, I almost always eat lunch here, so having a scrumptious, homemade, easily-reheatable meal in the fridge is a major plus. Another great thing about this meal is that it was a huge hit with both the adults AND the kiddos. While I had a pretty good sense that I was going to enjoy this, I was unsure as to whether my daughter would eat it, as ground beef is not her favorite food. Much to my surprise, she LOVED it, and asked for a second helping both times I made it.

While I completely approve of this casserole as-is, as I was making it the second time, I thought that the orzo/beef/vegetable mixture (pictured below) would be wonderful stuffed into bell peppers, rather than baked into a big casserole. I think I’ll mix it up next time and try it that way!

Cheesy Orzo, Beef, + Tomato Casserole |

Cheesy Orzo, Beef, + Tomato Casserole

serves 4-6, adapted from The Novice Chef


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled + finely chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced italian-seasoned tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons dried oregano (or dried italian seasoning)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken broth
pinch of cayenne pepper
8 oz orzo pasta
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4 – 1/2″ rounds, to top the casserole


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish, set aside.

Cook the orzo until just al dente, according to package directions. (For me, this took about 7 minutes). Drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot, and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until vegetables are starting to soften. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no pink remains, about 8-10 minutes.

Drain off any fat, then add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, tomato paste, chicken broth, cayenne, + cooked orzo. Simmer until the juices start to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in 1 cup of shredded mozzarella. Add salt + pepper to taste.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish, and bake for 25 minutes, uncovered. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, top with the remaining 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, and sliced fresh mozzarella.

Remove from the oven, and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rachel Cooks August 26, 2015 at 6:03 am

Total comfort food! Perfect for the chillier days!

2 SaraLily August 26, 2015 at 8:25 am

Oooooo I like the idea of stuffing peppers with this combination!! Sounds so good! I am still drooling over those glorious gobs of cheese on top! Yum!

3 Amy August 26, 2015 at 8:37 am

This recipe definitely is not stingy with the cheese! =D

4 Amy (Savory Moments) August 26, 2015 at 4:18 pm

This looks so yummy! The whole time I was thinking about how good it would stuffed into bell peppers and then you mentioned it at the end :-)

5 Amy August 26, 2015 at 8:09 pm

Great minds… =)

6 Meghan August 26, 2015 at 9:12 pm

This looks like it would be on heavy rotation in my house too! I love the idea of using this to make stuffed peppers – yum!

7 Jess @ Flying on Jess Fuel August 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Oh man, this does look amazing! I love when you find those favorites that you just keep making over and over. I’ll definitely have to try this!!

8 Dani @ Dani California Cooks August 27, 2015 at 11:07 pm

Hello!! So nice to e-meet you – I’m a first-timer to your blog. I love this recipe, especially your idea of stuffing it into peppers. Yum!!

9 Amy August 28, 2015 at 9:23 am

Welcome, Dani! So glad you found your way to my little blog. =)

10 Jess @ whatjessicabakednext August 29, 2015 at 6:57 am

Love this baked orzo – such a delicious idea! The flavours sound amazing!

11 Beth August 30, 2015 at 5:20 pm

This sounds amazing – and I’d love it stuffed in bell peppers too!

12 Marina @ Parental Journey August 31, 2015 at 4:59 am

Amy, it looks amazing – I love orzo!!

13 viviannwill@sweetandwarm August 31, 2015 at 5:34 am

it looks awesome! thank for your recipes!

14 Holly September 7, 2015 at 8:10 am

Hi Amy!
Thanks for a great recipe! I made it on the weekend and it’s perfect to go in lunch containers for midweek lunches at work! Delicious.


15 Amy September 7, 2015 at 8:32 am

Wonderful, Holly! It’s currently one of my favorite meals to make over the weekend for weekday lunches, too. So glad you liked it!

16 Jessica - The Novice Chef September 8, 2015 at 7:59 am

So glad you and the family liked it Amy!! Our girls gobble it up every time. My favorite part is the black olives, but I get that they aren’t everyones favorite! 😉

17 ricejen November 3, 2015 at 10:10 am

This looks like the perfect recipe for the last remaining veggies from my CSA (tomatoes, eggplant & bell peppers). Gonna make it this Thursday. Yay & thanks! 😉

18 Amy November 3, 2015 at 11:11 am

Enjoy, Jen! I was seriously obsessed with this recipe for a while, making it at least once a week. Its leftovers are just so darn good (and quick to heat up), which is a major plus for me (since I work from home / eat at home). Your additions sound fantastic. Enjoy + report back!

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