Recipe: orzo with bacon, mushrooms and parmesan

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When I think of this dish an image comes to mind, of Nigella in her silk dressing gown, opening that famous fridge door to get herself a late night snack. The leftovers from this dish would be perfect for midnight snacking and all you need is a bowl and a fork. But it’s really nice for supper a regular week night when you want something fast, easy and filling on the table in 15 minutes flat. It does that and more.

The comforting flavours of earthy mushrooms and salty bacon together with the silky orzo pasta comforts you from within. And it’s that comforting feeling that is sometimes most important for me when I cook for myself on a day that just feels a bit meh. May it be from the incessant London rain, the fact that the weekend feels far away or a rubbish day at work – regardless of the reason you will feel better after a bowl of this. Promise!

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Orzo with bacon, mushrooms and parmesan, serves 3-4

200 ml orzo pasta (the one that looks like rice)

1/2 stock cube, vegetable 

200 g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

ca 120 g bacon, cut into small pieces

150 ml creme fraiche

plenty of grated parmesan

salt and black pepper

Cook the orzo pasta in plenty of water. Add salt and half a stock cube to the water for extra flavour. Cook until al dente (approx 10 minutes or according to the time on the packet). Drain and pour the pasta back into the pan. Stir in some oil or a knob of butter so it won’t become one sticky lump. 

While the pasta is cooking, fry the mushrooms in butter and oil mon medium heat and make sure not to crowd them. If you have a small frying pan fry the in batches instead. Add the garlic towards the end of their cooking time. Add salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Then fry the bacon pieces on medium heat until crispy and brown. Drain on kitchen towel. 

Mix the creme fraîche into the pasta, then add the mushrooms and bacon. Mix well and add in some grated parmesan. Season to taste. Serve in bowl and top with even more parmesan.  

Orzo pasta with wild garlic pesto, courgette and feta

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I snapped this picture as I was throwing this pasta together for lunch the next day, but I must say it exceeded my expectations so much I wish I had allowed myself time to take a nicer picture.

This is another dish where the sum is (much) greater than the individual parts; it’s just a simple dish that works. I love every bite of the slightly al dente pasta coated in fresh wild garlic pesto, the crunch from the raw thinly sliced baby courgettes, the bigger bits of tender-but-not-too-tender broccoli and the slightly melted pieces of tangy feta. I urge you to try it for your next picnic, barbecue or quick weekday supper.

Orzo pasta with wild garlic pesto, courgettes and feta, serves 2

200 ml orzo 

2-3 tbsp wild garlic pesto

1 baby courgette, thinly sliced

4 stems tenderstem broccoli 

100 g feta

a little olive oil if needed 

salt & pepper

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Put the broccoli in boiling salted water and cook until a little tender but still al dente and cut each stem into four. Drain the pasta in a sieve and pour it back into the empty saucepan. Stir in the pesto and add a little olive oil if needed. Add the courgette slices and the broccoli. Mix together and season to taste. Add the crumbled feta and stir once more before serving.