My Firefox browser’s homepage features a news-story service called “Pocket.” Throughout the day, it displays a selection of “curated” articles about a wide array of subjects in a 3×7 grid of colorful, eye-catching photos captioned with inviting summaries of the content to which they are linked.
Although I am ambivalent about Pocket’s claim to enable its users to “Discover the most thought-provoking stories out there. . .” and am often distracted from what I had originally wanted to read, I do sometimes find one or two items that pique my interest enough to click and follow. Not surprisingly, many of them are about food; and today’s post features a recipe I found on Pocket: “One-Pot Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Orzo.”
The recipe the webzine theKitchn.com, by Sheela Prakash, began: “We all have nights when we come home after a not-so-great day and need to sit down to something as comforting as possible, as quickly as possible.” After watching hours of political chaos and turmoil on television and reading about the madness in The Times and The Washington Post, the promise of comfort was most appealing.
I’m happy to report that the recipe delivered all that it promised; in less than an hour, including both prep and cooking, we did indeed have what the author described as “creamiest, cheesiest orzo you can imagine.” The mushrooms and spinach give the dish an earthy quality, and toasting the orzo followed by slowly cooking it in milk and broth provide a creamy texture, which is heightened by the addition of cheese at the end, off of the heat. All similar to making a risotto, but far easier and faster.
As I was cooking for two, I halved the recipe except for the cheese, but needed to use a little more broth while cooking the orzo. Since I already had white mushrooms on hand, I substituted those for the cremini called for in the recipe. Otherwise, I pretty much followed the recipe as written. Although I used chicken broth, a vegetable broth option makes this an appealing vegetarian dish.
One-Pot Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Orzo (adapted from a recipe by Sheela Prakash on theKitchn webzine)
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced ¼-inch thick
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces dried orzo pasta (about 1 ¼ cups)
1 to 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup whole milk
2 cups packed baby spinach (about 2 ounces)
1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.
2. Add the mushrooms, salt, and black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned and tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add the orzo and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the pasta.
5. Stir in the broth and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently to keep the orzo from sticking, until the orzo is al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed and has formed a creamy sauce, about 10 minutes or according to package instructions. If the pasta looks dry, add additional broth a little at a time.
4. Remove from the heat. Add the baby spinach and most of the Parmesan and stir until the spinach is just wilted and the cheese is melted, about 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Serve in warmed bowls sprinkled with additional cheese.
Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc, Grillo