This brie and mushroom orzotto is like a risotto but made with orzo pasta. It’s a creamy and comforting meal made in half the time it would take to make a risotto.
For me risottos rate highly on my top ten comforting meal list. They are warming and nourishing. You can find my risotto recipes here – Chorizo, cherry tomato and rosemary risotto and Chorizo, butternut squash and lemon risotto. The only issue with risotto is that it takes 40 minutes to cook. I don’t always have 40 minutes, and that’s where this brie and mushroom orzotto comes in. Orzo pasta is little ears of pasta which look a lot like rice but cook, like most pastas, in ten minutes. In this brie and mushroom orzotto the pasta is used in place of rice. The orzo pasta become silk-like on your tongue. It’s smothered in brie and cheddar which has melted into the stock that you cook the pasta in. Nestled into the orzotto are mushrooms fried until they are brown. So we have beautiful browned mushrooms, creamy cheesy sauce surrounding tiny silk like pieces of pasta – do I need to say more? It doesn’t get much more comforting that this.
I do need to say more about the cheeses used in this brie and mushroom orzotto. Most of the cheese is mature cheddar which gives a deep cheesy backbone to this meal. Just a quarter is brie or camembert. The brie brings it’s adult aroma to this dish. It makes this brie and mushroom orzotto into something more than macaroni cheese and a dish you could serve to friends for a relaxed evening meal. I alway include the skin of the brie in this dish as it adds flavour and anyway most of it melts. But if you don’t like brie skin, remove it before weighing out the 25g/1oz of brie.
It’s rare that I get particular about onions but can we be clear that this dish needs finely diced onions? The onions aren’t meant to be seen, but to provide their depth of flavour to this brie and mushroom orzotto.
Now – about those mushrooms. I use a mixture of white and chestnut because I like the colour. But I’m less fussed about which mushrooms you use than I am about cooking them. In ‘Julia and Julia’, Julia Childs teaches Julia how to cook mushrooms. Her secret is “Don’t crowd the mushrooms”. This means that each mushroom slice can cook on its own and brown beautifully. The mushroom juice that comes out of the mushroom as it cooks bubbles away, so leaving beautifully brown mushrooms. If I remember correctly, in the film we see three or four slices of mushroom frying in a pan. My recipe calls for 500g of mushrooms. I’m not going to calculate how long it will take to cook 500g of mushrooms that way but a LONG LONG time. Instead you can achieve similar mushrooms by heating the oil in a large frying pan until its hot. Throw in all the mushrooms and keep that heat high. The mushrooms will sizzle and you’ll need to stir every so often. After a while lots of mushroom juice will be in the pan. By continuing to keep the heat high this juice will boil away and then your mushrooms will begin to brown. After about ten minutes you will have a pan of browned mushrooms with a perfect concentrated mushroom taste.
Parsley is also key to this dish. I know that if coriander and mint are your herbs of choice then parsley can feel like a poor cousin, even a completely irrelevant tasteless cousin. But I have to disagree. Flat leaf parsley has it’s place here in this orzotto. It’s adds a clean taste as well as bringing it’s beautiful colour. Coriander or mint would be way too powerful for the gentle flavours in this brie and mushroom orzotto.
When you add the stock to the onions and then add the pasta, it’s going to look like there is far too much stock. Even when the pasta is cooked it will still be a little soupy, but go with this, serve it in bowls and enjoy that almost stew like quality to this orzotto. We aren’t going for a dry dish here.
Dave’s eyes light up when he see that this is for supper. Sometimes I like to stir some fresh rocket through my bowl to add a fresh tang to the bowl of creamy goodness that I’m digging into. Surprise, surprise, JP our 3 year old isn’t keen on rocket, but recently decided mushrooms are OK. So this dish is a cheesy pasta equivalent to him – cheesy pasta is one of his top favourite. But if your toddler doesn’t do mushrooms or doesn’t do them that night, then just serve their portion before stirring through the mushrooms for everyone else
Brie and Mushroom Orzotto – pasta risotto ready in 20 minutes
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4
- 500g mushrooms – I like chestnut and white mushrooms together and roughly sliced
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 900ml hot vegetable stock
- 260g orzo pasta
- 75g mature cheddar, grated
- 25g brie or Camembert, roughly chopped
- 30g flat leaf parsley, stalks removed and finely chopped
- Black pepper
- In a large frying pan, heat two tablespoons of oil over a high heat until hot. Throw in all the mushrooms and stir well. They will take about 10 minutes to cook and brown; give an occasional stir.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a pan with a lid. When hot, add the onion and garlic. Cover with the lid and reduce to a medium heat. Sweat the onion until soft, about 3 – 4 minutes.
- Add the stock to the onion and bring to the boil. Add the orzo and cook stirring occasionally until silky but still with a little bite, about 8 – 10 minutes. Before the orzo is completely cooked, add the cheeses and stir well.
- Once the pasta is done, add the parsley and mushrooms and season. I don’t find salt is needed because of the stock – but your palate will guide you. Serve.