Creamy Orzo with Mushrooms

Serves: 4

Who has time for risotto on weeknights? This creamy pasta dish is an ideal shortcut for any risotto-lover looking for a quick cheesy vegetarian version.

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8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large leek (white and light green parts only), sliced and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces orzo
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cup shredded italian cheese blend (about 6 ounces)
1-5 ounce package baby spinach (about 8 cups)
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the mushrooms with 2 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper on a baking sheet.

Spread out in a single layer. Roast, stirring halfway through, until well browned and crisp around the edges, about 25 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then scrape up with a spatula and transfer to a bowl.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the leek and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until the leek softens, about 2 minutes. Add the orzo, 2 cups water, the milk, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is al dente, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the cheese, spinach, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon parsley. Stir until the cheese melts and the spinach wilts; add a splash of water if the mixture is too thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the mushrooms with the lemon zest and remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Divide the orzo among bowls and top with the mushroom mixture.


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