Healthy Eating Italian Recipes Vegetarian

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.

83 replies on “Mushroom Orzotto”

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 🙂

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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… 😉

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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