Photos by Shelly Westerhausen
We all have nights when we come home after a not-so-great day and need to sit down to something as comforting as possible, as quickly as possible. This orzo is the answer. This is the creamiest, cheesiest orzo you can imagine, filled with tender mushrooms and baby spinach, that cooks up in a single pot in under 30 minutes. It also only requires a single utensil to eat, which means you can most definitely just grab a fork (or a spoon, for that matter) and take your bowl straight to the couch.
The Secret to the Creamiest Pasta Dinner
This one-pot pasta is as creamy as can be for a couple of reasons. First, the orzo is cooked in a mixture of chicken (or vegetable) broth and whole milk. The broth lends flavor, while the milk provides the richness you crave. Second, by stirring the orzo frequently as it cooks, you’re not only keeping it from sticking to the bottom of the pot, but you’re also forcing it to release some of its starches into the liquid, which helps to thicken it and transform it into a luxurious sauce. It’s a bit like stirring rice when making risotto, except this is both easier and faster.
One-Pot Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Orzo
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes to 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes to 22 minutes
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup), plus more for serving
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound dried orzo pasta (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 cups packed baby spinach (about 4 ounces)
Finely grate 2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup). Mince 2 cloves garlic and slice 1 pound cremini mushrooms 1/4-inch thick.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned and tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 pound dried orzo pasta (about 2 1/2 cups) and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth and 2 cups whole milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently to keep the orzo from sticking, until the orzo is al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed and has formed a creamy sauce, about 10 minutes or according to package instructions.
Remove from the heat. Add 4 cups packed baby spinach and the Parmesan and stir until the spinach is just wilted and the cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Serve garnished with more grated Parmesan cheese.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Sheela Prakash received her master's degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy and is also a Registered Dietitian. She is the author of “Mediterranean Every Day.”