Zucchini and Mushroom Orzo

Zucchini and Mushroom Orzo-8Who needs some ideas of creative alternatives to side dishes? Instead of serving just boring cooked pasta or rice on the side, how about sprucing it up just a bit, and adding tons of flavor and making something really special from a regular weeknight meal?

Zucchini is all over the shelves of the grocery stores these days. White button mushrooms are available any time of year, and onions, garlic, and herbs are pantry staples for most people in the first place, so this is really a no-brainer. In the amount of time that it takes for you to boil the water and cook the pasta, you will have the rest of the ingredients ready to join the pasta, so it hardly takes any extra time, just a little bit of effort to prep all the veggies.

Here’s another idea how you can make life even easier – add some chicken or shrimp and you’ll have yourself a complete one-dish dinner! How cool is that? I have the deepest respect for One-Dish Dinners, so I’m all for it. 

Ingredients:

8 oz orzo pasta

1 Tablespoon butter or oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced ( I used white button mushrooms, but you can use any mushrooms that you like) (Also, if you don’t like mushrooms, just leave them out, or add another vegetable instead, like, bell peppers, corn, etc.)

1 medium zucchini, about 8 oz, chopped

salt, ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 – 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions: Zucchini and Mushroom Orzo-1-11Bring a medium-large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the orzo according to how you like it, more on the al dente side, if that’s what you prefer, or make it soft and mushy, if you’re like my husband, ha ha. You’ll be eating it, so cook it however you like, not necessarily by the package instructions. While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, prep and cook the rest of the ingredients. If you time things right, everything will finish cooking at the same time, and how cool is that? I love when things work out like that in the kitchen. In a medium skillet, heat the butter until it melts and then add the chopped onion, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onions are soft and tender. Zucchini and Mushroom Orzo-2Add the mushrooms and garlic to the skillet, also seasoning with salt and pepper and cook for another 5-8 minutes. At first, the mushrooms will get watery, but eventually all the extra liquid will cook off and the mushrooms will start to get golden. Zucchini and Mushroom Orzo-4When the mushrooms start to get some color on them and turn golden brown, add the chopped zucchini and also season with salt and pepper to taste. Zucchini and Mushroom Orzo-5I like to season things at every step. Of course, I do it a little bit at a time –  there’s no need to get crazy with all the salt, but not only does make sure that the dish is properly seasoned, but it also helps release liquid from each ingredient, which helps a lot in the sautéing process. The liquid helps the food cook faster and the liquid sort of “cleans” the skillet, since it’s a lot easier to scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet, things don’t burn fast AND you use a lot less oil. So many pluses, right? Anyway, keep cooking the zucchini for just 3 minutes or so, just until it loses its rawness, but that’s all. Zucchini cooks really fast, and if you keep it on the heat too long, it will get watery and mushy. Zucchini and Mushroom Orzo-6At this point, the pasta should be cooked. Drain the orzo and add all the cooked vegetables and mushrooms to the pot, mixing to combine. Add the Parmesan cheese. You can add just a 1/4 of a cup, or if you want to make it really cheesy, add a full 1/2 cup; it’s totally up to you. Zucchini and Mushroom Orzo-7Add the chopped parsley and also mix to combine. Serve hot. Leftovers reheat really well, so all you have to do is microwave it or add just a teaspoon or two of oil or butter, add the orzo and cook on medium heat until the orzo is hot all the way through. You can add a splash of water or broth to thin it out a bit and to help it reheat faster. Another really great idea is to add some chicken or shrimp to this recipe and it will make a really easy, one-dish dinner. (In that case, cook the chicken or shrimp first and set it aside and then add it to the rest of the meal at the end. You can also cook it on the side, in another skillet, in the oven or even on the grill.)Zucchini and Mushroom Orzo-8

Zucchini and Mushroom Orzo
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sides
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 8 oz orzo pasta
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced ( I used white button mushrooms, but you can use any mushrooms that you like)
  • 1 medium zucchini, about 8 oz, chopped
  • salt, ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ - ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Bring a medium-large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the orzo according to how you like it, more on the al dente side, if that's what you prefer, or make it soft and mushy, if you're like my husband, haha. You'll be eating it, so cook it however you like, not necessarily by the package instructions.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, prep and cook the rest of the ingredients. If you time things right, everything will finish cooking at the same time, and how cool is that? I love when things work out like that in the kitchen.
  3. In a medium skillet, heat the butter until it melts and then add the chopped onion, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onions are soft and tender.
  4. Add the mushrooms and garlic to the skillet, also seasoning with salt and pepper and cook for another 5-8 minutes. At first, the mushrooms will get watery, but eventually, all the extra liquid will cook off and the mushrooms will start to get golden.
  5. When the mushrooms start to get some color on them and turn golden brown, add the chopped zucchini and also season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Keep cooking the zucchini for just 3 minutes or so, just until it loses its rawness, but that's all. Zucchini cooks really fast, and if you keep it on the heat too long, it will get watery and mushy.
  7. At this point, the pasta should be cooked. Drain the orzo and add all the cooked vegetables and mushrooms to the pot, mixing to combine.
  8. Add the Parmesan cheese. You can add just a ¼ of a cup, or if you want to make it really cheesy, add a full ½ cup; it's totally up to you. Add the chopped parsley and also mix to combine.
  9. Serve hot.
Notes
Leftovers reheat really well, so all you have to do is microwave it or add just a teaspoon or two of oil or butter, add the orzo and cook on medium heat until the orzo is hot all the way through. You can add a splash of water or broth to thin it out a bit and to help it reheat faster.

Instead of the orzo, you can use any other type of pasta or even rice.

Zucchini and Mushroom Orzo-10

7 Comments

  • Yelena

    Oh yum!! My kinda food!! Absolutely love anything with orzo pasta. Will defiantly give this a try. I also make a salad that’s made with Orzo pasta, green onion, sliced olives, tomatoes and topped with feta cheese and mayo. Super yummy!

  • Tzivia

    Mmmmm gotta get me some orzo wow another really way cool recipe Olga thanx tons for posting totally love the abundance of zucchini this time of year and with the combo of mushrooms (my other fave) this recipe is a must try for me happy blessed sweet Sunday sweetheart cheers

  • Dina

    My husband and I absolutely LOVED this recipe! I have an never ending supply of zucchini growing in my garden and wanted to put it to use (also my first time EVER cooking with orzo). The simplicity of this recipe is full of flavor. Love the parmesan, mushrooms, onion, and garlic, such a perfect combinations. I will defiantly make this recipe again and going to tell my sister about it as soon as she gets off work. I’m so glade I tried out orzo. Thank you for this recipe!

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