Sautéed Mushroom and Herb Pasta

Fresh mushrooms can be a cook’s best friend because of that special touch they add to recipes without all the calories. One serving of about five medium-size mushrooms is only twenty calories and that’s with no fat, cholesterol, or sodium. They also make a great substitute for meat or a delicious accent when combined with it.

Selecting mushrooms for a dish is all about the stage of development of the mushroom itself. For instance, the little button mushrooms with the tight caps are great for salads because of their subtle flavor. Medium-size mushrooms are good for cooking because their flavor is a little more robust. The most flavorful taste is found in mature mushrooms that are fully open.

When you bring mushrooms home from the grocery store, they’ll probably be covered in cellophane. That’s really not the best way to keep them. It’s better to take them out and put them in a paper bag and store them in the refrigerator. This allows them to breathe and they will stay firmer longer. This goes for the pre-sliced mushrooms that are covered in plastic as well.

This pasta dish is what I refer to as a flexible meal. Combine it chicken and a salad for a full dinner, or if you are in a rush, it is a meal on its own.

Orzo is the pasta that I used in this recipe. It looks somewhat like rice and has a creamy texture when cooked, creating a dish that is somewhat like risotto.

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
    • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • 2 cups orzo
    • 3 3/4 cups chicken broth
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • parsley and Parmesan cheese to garnish

    Instructions

    1. First, you will want to start the orzo cooking. In a stockpot bring to a boil 3 3/4 cups of chicken broth. You will find that the directions on the orzo package call for a 2 to 1 ratio, but I like to use a little less broth so that the consistency is drier.
    2. Stir the orzo into the chicken broth and return to a boil. Stirring occasionally, continue to boil until orzo is cooked al dente and the liquid is absorbed about 8 to 10 minutes.
    3. While you are waiting for the broth to boil heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and mushrooms and sauté until golden brown, this takes about10 minutes.
    4. Add the herbs and garlic. Sauté for another minute or two and remove from heat.
    5. Now, when your orzo is ready, it will have a creamy consistency, remove from heat, stir in the mushroom/onion mixture, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
    6. Garnish with shredded Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley and serve warm.