This is my modern take on a mushroom risotto — I enjoy using pasta in novel ways, and find that mushrooms give a very unctuous and satisfying flavor to anything cooked with them. Feel free to add some sautéed asparagus to this dish for a crunchy kick! — Maria Loi and Sarah Toland, The Greek Diet
- 1 onion, very finely chopped (by hand or in the food processor)
- 1 Cup grated tomato (grated on the large holes of a box grater)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Pounds white button mushrooms, stemmed and cleaned, sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Cup red wine
- 2 Cups vegetable stock or water
- 1 1-pound package Loi Kritharaki Orzo Pasta (or other whole-grain pasta)
- Freshly grated pecorino cheese, for garnish
- Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
In a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the onion until golden and caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes, sprinkling it lightly with salt as it cooks. Add the tomato and garlic and continue to cook until well combined.
Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are nicely browned, about 10 minutes. The liquid they release as they cook will be used later to coat the pasta. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper, and add the cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
Pour in the wine and add 2 cups of the stock. Continue to cook over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by one-third. There should be enough liquid in the skillet to comfortably hold all the orzo, about 1 cup. If not, add a little extra water or stock as needed.
Preheat a small sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the orzo and cook, stirring, until it turns golden brown and develops a nutty aroma, less than 5 minutes.
Carefully add the orzo to the skillet with the mushroom mixture and allow it to cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, about 5 to 10 minutes. If the orzo absorbs the liquid but isn’t quite done, add another ¼ or ½ cup of stock to the skillet. Taste the sauce, and add salt and pepper as needed.
Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. To serve, ladle the pasta into large bowls, sprinkle with pecorino, and garnish with fresh basil leaves.