San Sebastian is where I’ve had the best food I’ve had in all of Spain, maybe even all of Europe. It was delicious, innovative, accessible, and best of all, in small plate format. How can you not love a tiny version of a perfectly composed dish? I could barely stop myself from ordering entire menus…okay, I admit it: it happened once. But it was a small menu at least!
I consistently loved one dish over everything else. Luckily, lots of the popular pintxos bars had a version of it on their freshly written chalkboards, so I got to order it everywhere. They called it risotto, but it wasn’t made with arborio rice — instead they ingeniously use orzo pasta, which is similar in shape to rice but doesn’t need nearly as much babying as risotto.
Making this orzo risotto is a breeze: there’s barely any stirring. The starch from the orzo cooking in the broth creates the same creaminess you get from arborio rice. It’s lighter than risotto, but just as comforting and a wee bit different. The mushrooms in this version give it a earthy depth and the peas add brightness and texture — it’s definitely addictive.
Mushroom and Pea Orzo Risotto Recipe
serves 2 as a main, generously or 4 as a starter or side
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 cup diced white button mushrooms
- 1 cup of orzo
- 2 cups vegetable broth plus 1/2 cup more if needed
- 1 cup peas (I used fresh, but feel free to use frozen)
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, but not brown. Add the mushrooms and sauté until caramelized. Add the orzo and stir to coat and lightly toast, about 2 minutes.
Add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring every so often, until orzo is tender to bite and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 9-11 minutes. Stir in the peas, and allow to cook for a minute or two. Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and enjoy hot!
Note: If mixture becomes too thick before the orzo is done, add a little more broth, a quarter cup at a time.