Creamy mushroom orzo

I mentioned the other day a while ago that I’d borrowed Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Everyday! from the library (before tangentially enthusing about my love for Auckland’s public library system…) and tried the chachouka recipe from it, which turned out brilliantly.  And then, aside from a brief (though enthusiastic) mention in a Sunday Smiles post, I never spoke about the book again, which could suggest that none of the other recipes appealed to me, or none of them worked.  What actually happened is that I cooked several recipes, loved them all and had so many others bookmarked to try out that I realised that this was a book worth buying – it was clearly not going languish on my bookshelf, gathering dust.  So that’s precisely what I did: I bought a copy.  But I never quite got around to blogging about those recipes, mostly because I didn’t take photos – I struggle with savoury food photography because I’m not terribly imaginative and I’d usually rather eat my meal hot rather than having to take photos of it whilst it cools.  And I’m also usually hungry.

I did, however, take photos of the creamy mushroom orzo, which was the second dish that I tried from the book (ages ago when mushrooms were still in season over here in the southern hemisphere…  Good timing if you’re in the northern hemisphere though!).  I love mushrooms and often cook them in a cream and wine sauce – my version of the French stalwart that is champignons à la crème.  I’ve always served them with toast, and would never have thought to add orzo, which is a great idea – it makes this more of a substantial meal and more practical to take as a packed lunch (always a bonus).

I don’t think larger pasta would work nearly as well, it would over-power the dish in terms of texture (does that even make sense?), whereas with the orzo, this dish is still all about the mushrooms and the sauce, and the orzo is more of a background addition that fills it out.  This is really a wonderfully comforting (but not heavy) autumnal or wintery dish.  I really like the addition of the balsamic vinegar – it adds a subtle extra dimension to the flavours, and goes so well with the mushrooms.  Since this recipe is very much made from scratch, I’m submitting it to this week’s Made with Love Mondays over at Javelin Warrior.

Creamy mushroom orzo

Serves 2-3
Adapted from River Cottage Veg Everyday!

Flavourful dark mushrooms, such as chestnut or field mushrooms, are best if you can get them – I used portobello mushrooms since I didn’t have much choice in terms of varieties.  Do use a good quality balsamic vinegar as it will impact the flavour of the dish.


500g mushrooms
Knob of butter
4 cloves of garlic
Small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, to serve
150g orzo pasta (aka risoni)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp dried thyme
100ml dry white wine
75ml crème fraîche (reduced fat is fine)


1.  Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, ready to cook the pasta whilst the sauce is being prepared.

2.  Brush the mushrooms, trim the stipes (stems/stalks) and slice thickly.  Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat.  Add half the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until starting to caramelise and the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated.  Remove to a plate and repeat with the other half of the mushrooms (doing it in batches avoids the mushrooms stewing in an overcrowded pan).

3.  Whilst the mushrooms are cooking, chop the garlic cloves and set aside.  Separately, strip the parsley leaves from their stalks, chop and set aside.  Once the second batch of mushrooms is nearly cooked, add the orzo to the boiling water and cook for the amount of time specified on the packet until al dente.  Drain as soon as it is cooked.

4.  Return the first batch of mushrooms to the frying pan, along with the garlic, balsamic vinegar and thyme.  Cook for about 2 mins, stirring frequently.  And the wine and simmer until it has mostly reduced, then reduce the heat a little and add the cream, stirring until just starting to simmer.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

5.  Stir the drained pasta through the mushroom mixture, along with most of the parsley.  Serve immediately, garnished with the remaining chopped parsley.



Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods

14 responses to “Creamy mushroom orzo

  1. I’ll take a bowl to go, thanks.
    I LOVE mushies & this looks super yum.

  2. So, now you’ve reinvented yourself as ‘Mushroom Mel’ !!
    I love mushroom and funghi…textures and flavours.
    In our wee shangri-la, we shift quite a lot of macaroni cheese. Now, I like mac’n cheese from time to time, but only if it’s made with a mature cheddar sauce…as I do. Problem is, I like textures in my food and wading thru a large bowl of mac, is tedious. So, I decided to create a special mac, which has gone down rather well. I cook chestnut mushrooms and leek, separately (with herbs) lash up a white mature cheddar, parmesan and roasted garlic sauce, combine with the macaroni and top with toasted walnut. Voila… textures and flavours!!
    I do like your wee recipe ‘MM’. Shows your little inventive nature, but without bombarding the recipe with uber ingredients. Less is indeed, more.
    Giving that one a try and you Missy, 9.9 out of 10…well, no-one’s perfect (though obviously, you’re soooo close)…

    • Mel

      Oh goodness, that reinvented macaroni cheese sounds heavenly! I’ll have to try it. I bet it would be delicious with blue cheese rather than cheddar, too. I love the textures and flavours of mushrooms as well – perhaps mushroom Mel is an appropriate new nickname, haha. Glad you like the sound of this mushroom dish – do let me know what you think if you try it out!

  3. Colin

    By the way, Mushroom Mel, it’s Colin being cheeky, above. Mr Bristow is my Twitter account name. Quite why that showed up, is beyond my faltering technophobe brain…

  4. This looks great – simple but full of flavour, and very kind of you to post it at the right time for all of us here in the UK and northern hemisphere!

    • Mel

      Thank you. I’d love to pretend I was being super organised and that the timing was deliberate, but it was really more a case of disorganisation and lucky timing…

  5. I adore a good risotto and this sounds marvelous. And you’re so right – anything with meat tends to be tricky to photograph. The browns and tans just don’t like the camera 😉 Thanks so much for sharing with Made with Love Mondays…

    • Mel

      Thank you! Yes, I find that it’s so difficult to make any kind of brownish food look appetising. Unfortunately, because there are so many savoury foods that are awesome but just don’t look great in photos.

  6. I’m always looking for new mushroom recipes and since I do love orzo as well, this is a perfect recipe for this household! Love it! Saw it on Made With Love Mondays.

  7. I made this for dinner last night and it was delicious! This will certainly be a regular dish in our household now. I think it would go fabulously with steak as a new twist on steak & mushrooms. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Mel

      Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed it! I think you’re right that it would go wonderfully with steak – I hadn’t thought of that because it’s so yummy on its own.

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