Mushroom Orzotto

frugal, recipe, orzo

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.

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.

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.

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83 comments on “Mushroom Orzotto

  1. luvnorcal
    February 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm

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

  2. Darya
    February 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Delicious! I’ve never tried “orzotto”!

  3. spree
    February 17, 2013 at 6:13 pm

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

    • spree
      February 17, 2013 at 6:14 pm

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

      • frugalfeeding
        February 20, 2013 at 7:22 pm

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

  4. cookinginsens
    February 17, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Orzo is such a nice pasta!

  5. narf77
    February 17, 2013 at 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 :)

    • frugalfeeding
      February 20, 2013 at 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!

      • narf77
        February 20, 2013 at 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. alinakelo
    February 17, 2013 at 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.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 24, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      I’m sure you will somewhere – try a deli. Thanks :)

  7. Irene
    February 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm

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

  8. baconbiscuit212
    February 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    That looks very yummy, Nick. I love the perfectly placed parsley too :-)

    • frugalfeeding
      February 20, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Cheers, Dais’ (Can I shorten your already short name?)

      • baconbiscuit212
        February 21, 2013 at 5:28 pm

        Of course! Didn’t need that superfluous y anyway :-)

  9. saucygander
    February 17, 2013 at 7:44 pm

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

  10. ambrosiana
    February 17, 2013 at 7:45 pm

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

  11. Karista
    February 17, 2013 at 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. :)

    • frugalfeeding
      February 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      Thanks so much, Karista! Glad you think so 😀

  12. throve
    February 17, 2013 at 7:49 pm

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

    • frugalfeeding
      February 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      What a way to wake up!

      • throve
        February 21, 2013 at 9:20 pm

        I was “so” not awake when I wrote that! :) I must have been dreaming.

  13. NickkiT
    February 17, 2013 at 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. kimsimard
    February 17, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    You always make it look so easy!

  15. insanefood
    February 17, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    This sounds amazing!

  16. gocooking
    February 17, 2013 at 8:28 pm

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

  17. Jenny
    February 17, 2013 at 8:32 pm


  18. youngontheroad
    February 17, 2013 at 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?

    • frugalfeeding
      February 23, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      Nope! Just a hobby I guess, but it’s a little more extreme like that!

  19. Conor Bofin
    February 17, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    This will be another first for me. Thanks Nick.

  20. Cathy
    February 17, 2013 at 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. Bunny Eats Design
    February 17, 2013 at 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. Korena in the Kitchen
    February 17, 2013 at 11:16 pm

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

  23. Eva Taylor
    February 17, 2013 at 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.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      But it’s different! That’s the point 😀

  24. angelica | table twenty eight
    February 18, 2013 at 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. foodisthebestshitever
    February 18, 2013 at 2:35 am

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

  26. Carolyn Chan
    February 18, 2013 at 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. onceuponarecipe
    February 18, 2013 at 6:50 am

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

  28. The Starving Artist
    February 18, 2013 at 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. thelittleloaf
    February 18, 2013 at 2:11 pm

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

  30. Kim Bultman
    February 18, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Wonderful creation!

  31. saucygander
    February 19, 2013 at 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. nehasabnis
    February 19, 2013 at 7:11 am

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

  33. bonfood
    February 19, 2013 at 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.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 20, 2013 at 7:13 pm

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

  34. bonfood
    February 19, 2013 at 8:02 am

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

  35. shuhan
    February 19, 2013 at 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. Good Cooks
    February 19, 2013 at 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. stirandstitch
    February 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm

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

  38. musingmar
    February 20, 2013 at 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.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 20, 2013 at 7:05 pm

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

  39. Somer
    February 20, 2013 at 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.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 20, 2013 at 7:04 pm

      Haha – prove it! 😀

      • Somer
        February 20, 2013 at 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.

        • frugalfeeding
          February 20, 2013 at 7:38 pm

          Fair enough – hope you’re on the mend!

          • Somer
            February 20, 2013 at 7:40 pm

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

  40. Mushrooms Canada
    February 21, 2013 at 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
    February 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    ASDA sell orzo (own brand) now.

    • frugalfeeding
      February 23, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      Best to avoid ASDA where possible though, eh?

  42. 3 O'Clock Tea Time
    March 4, 2013 at 2:43 am

    Can’t wait to try this! Looks amazing.

  43. Six
    March 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    This looks really tasty! I didn’t know “orzo” was a kind of pasta here, it simply means “barley” in Italian :) So an orzotto would be a barley-based version of a risotto. Mushrooms is a classic, but courgette flowers is one of my personal favourites. Of course, it’s almost as time consuming as a traditional risotto… 😉

    • Admin
      March 9, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      Yes, I did know that – there’s a shop that does barley coffee here. We call barley risotto speltotto here – I shall do a recipe soon.

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