Orzo with Roasted Mushrooms and Feta
Roasted mushrooms bring huge depth of flavour and plenty of bite to this light dinner of Orzo with Roasted Mushrooms, Feta and Spinach.
Orzo has fast become one of my favourite ingredients. I first came across it when browsing the pasta shelves at my local supermarket. Sandwiched between the macaroni and the penne was a bag of pasta which looked like large grains of rice. I’d never seen anything quite like it.
It looked interesting so I decided to give it a go. I wasn’t immediately sure what I was going to make with it but that didn’t put me off. After lots of experimenting orzo has now become a staple in my kitchen cupboard and I probably cook with it more than any other shape of pasta! Why? Well it makes a fantastic addition to pasta salads which I can throw into a lunchbox and take to work.
Because it behaves like both rice and pasta you can use it in a wide range of dishes. In this recipe I’ve cooked it in the same way you would any other pasta shape but orzo is so versatile you can also cook it in the same way you would with rice!
I think it is served best with light dressings and sauces (as I’ve done in this recipe) but it can also be used for risottos or pilafs, in soups and casseroles. The possibilities are endless. Let me know how you like to cook orzo in the comments below.
Although I love orzo and I think this dish wouldn’t be quite the same with another type of pasta, the real stars of the show are the roasted mushrooms.
I first came across roasted mushrooms in a cafe in Amsterdam where they were served alongside a pesto pasta salad. They added so much flavour and bite to the dish that I knew the second I got home I was going to roast the first mushroom I saw!
Why did I fall in love with them so hard and fast? Well roasted mushrooms have the most deep and earthy flavour. I didn’t realise I could love mushrooms any more than I already did but it tasted as though someone had heightened my sense of taste and opened up a whole new world of mushroom flavour.
They also have a wonderful texture. They have a real meaty bite and are not slimy in the slightest. If you’re a little sensitive to the texture of cooked mushrooms then definitely give roasted mushrooms a try. I love that on some pieces you also get little crispy pieces round the edges.
I posted my recipe on Instagram and @norecipes made the fantastic suggestion of keeping roasted mushrooms in an oil based marinade – the idea being that you always have roasted mushrooms on hand to add to a dish. I’m definitely going to have a play around with this because when I’m making lunch or dinner I don’t always have time to roast mushrooms right there and then. I will let you know how I get on!
Feta, spinach and lemon
You could just eat a bowl of orzo and roasted mushrooms – I really wouldn’t judge you. But to take this dish from average to awesome you’re going to need to throw in a few more ingredients.
After draining your orzo you’ll want to throw in a couple of generous handfuls of spinach to let them wilt. A squeeze of lemon and the freshness from the greens lifts the dish. Salty feta crumbled over the top adds a salty flavour and as it begins to melt into the orzo creates a slightly gooey sauce which brings everything together.
I won’t pretend like this dish is difficult in any way – other than waiting 30 minutes for the mushrooms to roast its a really simple dish made with humble ingredients. Still, it makes for a delicious lunch or light dinner. You won’t be disappointed.
Orzo with Roasted Mushrooms and Feta
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C or gas mark 4.
- Place the mushrooms on to a baking tray and drizzle over 3/4 of the olive oil and sprinkling over the salt and pepper.
- Roast the mushrooms in the centre of your oven for 30 minutes, giving them a shake halfway through cooking and sprinkling over the dried Italian herbs.
- When the mushrooms have 15 minutes left, bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil.
- Cook the orzo in the salted water for 10 minutes or until it is al dente.
- Drain the pasta and stir through the remaining olive oil and spinach.
- Let the spinach wilt using the residual heat from the orzo.
- Stir through the roasted mushrooms and feta.
- Squeeze the lemon juice over the dish and serve while still warm.