Pasta or rice? Orzo it neither?

I’m a tomato pasta girl. My penchant for the kick of a chilli makes me necessarily so. However, my mushroom habit can tempt me down this creamy path…

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This recipe was borne from my Mum’s oft repeated compliment when chomping on a particularly good bowl of mushroom pasta: ‘It tastes like a posh version of Campbell’s Mushroom Soup. Delicious’. So, I set out to receive this compliment myself. And I got it. It has since become a regular in my kitchen.

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INGREDIENTS (serves 4):

30g dried porcini mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red onion, diced
300g chestnut mushrooms, chopped or sliced (according to preference)
2 tsp fresh thyme (or whatever herb you fancy; I also like tarragon with this)
Glass dry white wine
300ml creme friache
Salt and pepper

Pasta to serve, cooked how you like it.

RECIPE:

First, boil a kettle to rehydrate the dried mushrooms; pour around 250ml of water over the mushrooms in a bowl, cover, and leave for around 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry your diced onions in some oil until softened, then add the garlic, and continue to cook.

Add the fresh, chopped mushrooms to the pan (trying not to overcrowd the pan as this causes stewing rather than frying (if you have a small pan you may prefer to do this in 2 batches)), and cook until the juices have come out the mushrooms, then soaked back up.

Add the rehydrated porcini mushrooms, fishing them out of the water, but reserving the liquid.

Add the wine to the pan, and leave to cook off.

As the pan begins to dry up again, start adding some of the liquid reserved from the dried mushrooms; keep adding the liquid, until the mushrooms are saturated, and the pan stops drying out. (At this point you want your pan to be quite wet).

Add the creme friache to the pan.

Add the thyme (or herb of choice) and season well.

Cook until you get the consistency that you like.

MY EXPERIENCE:

Whilst pounding the ‘Essential’ pasta aisle of Waitrose I happened to stumble across this:

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Orzo isn’t a pasta usually available in your regular supermarket, let alone is the budget range, so obviously I jumped at the chance to buy it.

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Reminiscent of both pasta and risotto, this actually did little for me in that it was neither. A little too gloopy and a little too stodgy, I wasn’t much of a fan. That was until I had the leftovers the next day for lunch; straight out of the fridge as a pasta salad was when this carb really came into it’s own for me. If I were to buy orzo again, it would be that capacity, to make a lovely pasta salad for a picnic or packed lunch. Orzo would I? (Sorry. I can’t help myself.)

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