Chilli Cheese Orzo with Asparagus and Mushrooms

I’ve always found orzo fairly underwhelming. My thought was, I have pasta and I have risotto rice, orzo is just trying to be both and it’s unnecessary.

However! A couple of months back, my mum bought some orzo because ‘she thought it looked fun’ and wanted to make a tomato based orzo dish. So I ended up giving it another go, because I never found it unpleasant, it was always just… meh.

To cut a long story short, I got SUPER into it. All of a sudden, I just couldn’t get enough of the texture and I wanted to eat it regularly. I still don’t find it particularly great in soups or stews, but I do like to use it when I fancy a kind of pasta/risotto hybrid dinner.

It’s weird that I’ve changed my mind so dramatically, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact I only ever had it in overcooked canned soup in the past (blergh). The best thing about it though, is that it’s so incredibly versatile and this creamy, spicy, crunchy version is the most comforting thing ever.

I use a mix of cambozola and gouda slices in my recipe but you can use any creamy, mild cheeses you like.

Ingredients (serves one)

  • 50-75g of orzo
  • 1 vegetable stock pot (I use Knorr)
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced (white or chestnut works best)
  • 3-4 spears of asparagus, chopped into 2cm slices
  • 1 medium birds eye chilli or 3 smaller ones, like the ones I’ve used (seeds removed if you don’t like it too hot)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 30g cambozola, rind removed
  • 2 slices of gouda, sliced
  • a splash of milk (to loosen the pasta)
  • A handful of parsley, chopped
  • Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice

Method

Place your orzo in a pan with just enough water to cover the pasta. Turn the heat to low/medium and gently cook until the pasta is al dente and the water has almost completely absorbed (usually around 10 minutes).

Whilst the orzo is cooking, fry your sliced mushrooms and asparagus on a medium to high heat for 5 minutes in a separate pan. Then add your chilli and garlic, and fry for a further 5 minutes until the mushrooms are nicely browned and the asparagus is cooked but crunchy.

Add your vegetable stock pot and stir until it has completely dissolved. Next add your cambozola, gouda and milk to the orzo and stir over a medium heat until everything is completely melted and oozy.

Stir through your mushroom, asparagus, chilli and garlic mix, most of the chopped parsley and a generous helping of black pepper. Finally, squeeze in the fresh lemon juice. This will cut through the creaminess and add a fresh punch of flavour to the dish.

Then all that’s left to do is pour the ooey gooey goodness into a bowl, top with the remaining parsley and tuck in.

Let me know what you think of the recipe below. Does it tickle your comfort-food-loving tastebuds or is it too cheese-tastic?

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