I always find it quite satisfying when I come across something to make for dinner which is the perfect balance of delicious to low maintenance, something which doesn’t require a tonne of new ingredients. However I suppose the reason I feel this way is because I am not a stranger to taking a trip to the shops with a grocery list the length of my arm. Sometimes though, after a day in the kitchen at work, simple makes a refreshing change – and this is a really lovely dish, not to mention the perfect way to use up the last of that bottle of wine sitting on the kitchen counter!
Orzo, or risoni as the Italians call it, is a small rice shaped pasta. Here, it is combined with some nice mushrooms and a lightly creamy sauce to make a really tasty, warming meal for two. I like to use a variety of mushrooms in this dish, the more flavoursome the better! I chose a mixture of chestnut and enoki’s this time around. If you do the same, I’d recommend frying the enoki’s separately as they take a little less time to cook.
Mushroom Orzo – serves 2
2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
a knob of butter
500g mushrooms, cleaned and thickly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
a few sprigs of thyme, leaves only
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
75 ml dry white wine
50ml crème fraîche
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a big handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
Put a large pot of well-salted water on to boil so that the orzo is ready to cook while the sauce is coming together.
Heat one tablespoon of the oil and half of the butter in a large frying pan over a medium high heat. Cook the mushrooms in two batches, using the remaining oil and butter for the second batch. You want to cook them until all the liquid that’s been released has evaporated and the mushrooms are starting to caramelise. When they’re almost cooked, put the orzo in the boiling water and cook until it tastes al dente.
Return the first batch of mushrooms back to the pan and add the garlic, thyme and vinegar. Give it a good stir and let it simmer for a minute or two before adding the wine. Cook for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated, then add the crème fraîche, reducing the heat a little and stirring until it just starts to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta as soon as it’s cooked and add it to the mushroom mixture, tossing it together well.
Serve scattered with lots of chopped parsley.