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Mushroom Orzotto

February 17, 2013

Mushroom Orzotto

Risotto is a classic Italian dish and for good reason – it manages to satisfy four out of the five senses to spectacular effect. However, risotto is notorious for being a little laborious, so it can often be refreshing to embark on something easier, lighter and quicker. Whereas risotto takes half an hour or so to perfect, this smashingly named orzotto is ready in as little as half the time. Of course, the texture won’t be quite the same, but it’ll certainly be delicious.

When rice is cooked it releases starch as a result of liquid permeating its surface. The shorter the grain of rice, the more starch will be released (due to the type of starch contained within) – arborio rice is used in risotto because it produces a creamy, starchy consistency. On the other hand, pasta “lets go” of far less starch during the cooking process, thus engendering a lighter consistency. However, it would be a shame to lose entirely the characteristics of a good risotto – the presence of single cream mitigates any potential misplacements.

Mushroom Orzotto

If you are food revellers of vegan ilk, it may prove a little tricky to create a genuinely satisfying orzotto – without the presence of starch or dairy fat thickening without altering the flavour entirely could prove tricky. Luckily for you lot, I have in my possession a rather stunning recipe for mushroom risotto perfectly suited to you conscientious objectors, or “conchies”.

n.b. this recipe is inspired by a similar dish which features in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage Veg Everyday’ – a cracking purchase and one of the only recipe books I use.

Mushroom Orzotto {recipe}

Serves 3-4


• 200g orzo

• 250g mushrooms, thickly sliced

• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed

• 1 tbsp fresh rosemary

• 150ml single cream

• A knob of butter

• Olive oil

• 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish

• Salt and pepper


1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a generous pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil. Heat a knob of butter, with a little olive oil in a heavy based pan and start frying the garlic and mushrooms. Add the orzo to the water.

Mushroom Orzotto

2. Once the mushrooms have given off some of their water and started to brown reduce the heat and add the rosemary. Drain the orzo once soft (10 minutes) and add to the mushrooms along with the cream. Bring it all together, season to taste, stir through the parsley and serve with a garnish.

Mushroom Orzotto

Cost: Orzo is a fairly cheap pasta though hard to find – you can pick it up for around £1/500g. Mushrooms are by far the most expensive ingredient in this dish, but at as little as £1/250g they still go far for their price. All in all, this tribute to risotto should set one back no more than around £2.

76 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2013 6:04 pm

    Oooo yum, I haven’t used orzo before. This looks quite delicious.

  2. February 17, 2013 6:07 pm

    Delicious! I’ve never tried “orzotto”!

  3. February 17, 2013 6:13 pm

    Crikey! That’s a good one Nick! Great idea and a wonderful pairing of ingredients!

    • February 17, 2013 6:14 pm

      I love that you taught me to say crikey! (now I’m just hoping i’m using it correctly!)

      • February 20, 2013 7:22 pm

        My work here is done! Indeed you are. Thanks for the previous comment btw 😀

  4. February 17, 2013 6:23 pm

    Orzo is such a nice pasta!

  5. February 17, 2013 6:34 pm

    I might have to stop buying packets of Rice-a-riso now that I have the real deal to prepare ;). Orzo is a clever little number that does give you a kind of “ricey” mouthfeel but in half the time and at a significant cost save on the Italian imported ricy good stuff. Veganising this recipe wouldn’t be that hard. I wouldn’t go with coconut cream. You are right that it would totally overwhelm the flavour of the mushrooms BUT you could go with a light nut cream? Perhaps cashew or almond? I am thinking that cashew would be especially complementary to this recipe and would give it a delicious flavour that would rival dairy cream :). For a man who is a self proclaimed fungi avoider you are certainly embracing their fuggish allure these days :). Well done to the lovely Katherine for tempting you to try them. Mushrooms are almost a cuisine in themselves and if you are able to identify them appropriately, they can even be a gourmet find for free! Best go with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s (he of the exponential cholesterol forced veggie exploration ;)…just kidding, he is my foodie hero 🙂 ) foraging mate John Wright to make sure that you don’t paralyse or accidentally poison yourself. Love these vego posts by the way! Are you going to post about the quinoa? I will be very interested to see how you go about preparing it 🙂

    • February 20, 2013 7:22 pm

      Uh, indeed! :D. You tell me, I haven’t much experience with complex veganism! Indeed, their allure is too… much. A picture of the quinoa will go up on the FB page, stay tuned!

      • February 20, 2013 7:40 pm

        Can’t wait Mr Frugal…can’t wait (and my bag of as yet unused quinoa is twitching in my hand ready to be hurled into preparation once you do! 🙂 )

  6. February 17, 2013 6:54 pm

    Great idea the Orzo! Don’t know if I can find it here in Finland but I’ll surely try. It’s not the first time I’ve heard of this ingredient over the net and it’s starting intrest me. And anything with mushrooms is so good. Your dish looks good.

  7. February 17, 2013 7:15 pm

    I haven’t try orzo before but it looks just as delicious. Beautiful pictures by the way. Cheers 🙂

  8. February 17, 2013 7:18 pm

    That looks very yummy, Nick. I love the perfectly placed parsley too 🙂

  9. February 17, 2013 7:44 pm

    You’ve reminded me we have orzo in the pantry, dinner is set! Thanks!

  10. February 17, 2013 7:45 pm

    Lovely and hearty recipe and just perfect for cold weather!!

  11. February 17, 2013 7:47 pm

    What a lovely and brilliant alternative to risotto! Perfect for all our winter mushrooms that are in season here. Comforting and indulgent without the stirring. 🙂

  12. February 17, 2013 7:49 pm

    Your meal was the first photo I saw at today. Wow, so delicious looking. I will have to make this!

  13. February 17, 2013 7:58 pm

    This looks really good. I’ve recently discovered orzo and love it. This recipe will be one of my evening meals this week! I agree with you about Veg everyday, a fantastic book for everyone, not just vegetarians.

  14. February 17, 2013 7:59 pm

    You always make it look so easy!

  15. February 17, 2013 8:24 pm

    This sounds amazing!

  16. February 17, 2013 8:28 pm

    Looks good. But what the heck is a “knob” of butter?

  17. February 17, 2013 8:32 pm


  18. February 17, 2013 8:33 pm

    I love risotto – anything carb based, actually 😉 Thank you for stopping by my blog, earlier! Do you work as a chef or is this just a hobby of yours?

  19. February 17, 2013 8:35 pm

    This will be another first for me. Thanks Nick.

  20. February 17, 2013 9:54 pm

    I must try this – I love Hugh’s book too but haven’t tried many of the recipes yet. Thanks for the inspiration! (The parsley garnish makes it look so inviting!)

  21. February 17, 2013 11:01 pm

    Yum. I love orzo, but usually use it in pasta salad. Never used it in a risotto type dish before. This looks very easy and filling.

  22. February 17, 2013 11:16 pm

    Very nice. I love risotto and my significant other loves orzo, so this is perfect 🙂

  23. February 17, 2013 11:34 pm

    I honestly like your recipes, but I have never understood orzo. If I wanted rice, I would have cooked rice! Time or not.

  24. February 18, 2013 1:03 am

    This looks stunning! Admittedly, risotto is one thing I have never attempted as it I’ve built it up as something too time consuming & tedious. But I would definitely be willing to try this – perhaps with a whole assortment of wild mushrooms…

  25. February 18, 2013 2:35 am

    Some rehydrated dried wild mushrooms are great for a bit of a flavour boost…

  26. February 18, 2013 5:01 am

    I love Hugh ! And didn’t know that he had published a River Cottage series of books – I must get them, thanks !

  27. February 18, 2013 6:50 am

    Orzotto – I love it! What a great name, indeed! Sounds delicious too!

  28. February 18, 2013 7:08 am

    So impressed – what a great idea and a clever name. Do you think this would also work with whole wheat orzo? Probably take a bit longer, but whole wheat always makes me feel better about eating pasta lol

  29. February 18, 2013 2:11 pm

    I’ve been making ‘speltotto’ lots recently but have never tried it with orzo – what a lovely idea.

  30. February 18, 2013 4:35 pm

    Wonderful creation!

  31. February 19, 2013 12:53 am

    We had this for dinner, I used some Swiss brown mushrooms and reduced the cream and butter. It was a simple, light dinner, with a lovely flavour. Thanks!

  32. February 19, 2013 7:11 am

    oooh another way to make orzo!! what an amazing pasta!! great post!!!

  33. February 19, 2013 8:02 am

    Great recipe here Mr Frugal. Nigella Lawsons new cookbook Nigellisma has a similar recipe with peas and bacon which I have bene making. She cooks the orzo in the frypan like a tradtional recipe but much easier, hardly any stirring. It is even lazier than having to boil the orzo separate as it is all made in one dish.

    • February 20, 2013 7:13 pm

      Ah yes, I’m not much of a cookbook buyer or follower but I’ve heard it’s good!

  34. February 19, 2013 8:02 am

    Oh she also has a mushroom farro rissotto type dish similar to yours.

  35. February 19, 2013 11:28 am

    I haven’t used orzotto before, but risotto is a wonderful classic I love. Should try to get my hand on some different grains to experiment with; this looks absolutely gorgeous x

  36. February 19, 2013 5:18 pm

    Yes, I use it a lot, especially when I’m short in time, it’s one of my rescuer dishes, thanks for sharing the mushroom orzo, so I’ll add it to my list of ideas.

  37. February 19, 2013 7:30 pm

    mmm, i like this idea! orzo does lend itself well to creamy dishes.

  38. February 20, 2013 12:32 am

    Hmmm, it only satisfied four of the five senses? That’s not up to your usual standard! Ha ha, this dish looks quite delicious actually. Thanks for sharing.

    • February 20, 2013 7:05 pm

      I know… sorry – didn’t think my ears would appreciate being stuffed full of the dinner.

  39. February 20, 2013 7:26 am

    I beg to differ that I couldn’t make this every bit as nice with a bit of cashew cream and a knob of vegan butter 😉 It IS very nice Frugal! I’ve forgotten how much I love orzo. Thanks for the reminder.

    • February 20, 2013 7:04 pm

      Haha – prove it! 😀

      • February 20, 2013 7:36 pm

        You’re on! Give me a week or two. I need to get orzo and mushrooms at the store and I’m not planning on heading out yet til I feel a bit better.

      • February 20, 2013 7:38 pm

        Fair enough – hope you’re on the mend!

      • February 20, 2013 7:40 pm

        Slowy… But I’m mending. Blasted black ice.

  40. February 21, 2013 2:29 pm

    I absolutely love the simplicity in this dish and the way all of the ingredients come together so beautifully. Thanks for sharing and making me so hungry!!


  41. ivan30075 permalink
    February 23, 2013 5:21 pm

    ASDA sell orzo (own brand) now.

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