Brown Orzo Risotto
Here's my fake-out on traditional risotto. Instead of short grain rice, I used whole wheat orzo pasta. It has the shape of rice, but is packed with protein and fiber, so it's a meal in itself, as well as a fancy, easy side dish.
1 1/2 c whole wheat orzo pasta
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
8 oz. portobello or white mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 c low sodium, fat free chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp butter substitute
freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt + pepper
1. Heat 1/2 tsp olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes, until browned. Season lightly with salt + pepper, and transfer to a colander. (The mushrooms will release some liquid.)
2. Lower the heat to medium. Carefully wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, the butter and the shallots. Cook the shallots for about 2 minutes, until soft. Add the orzo and cook 3 to 5 minutes, just to toast the pasta. Season with salt + pepper.
3. While the pasta and shallots toast in the pan, place the stock in a microwave safe measuring cup and heat, about 2 minutes. (You can also bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a separate saucepan.) Add 1 cup of the chicken stock to the orzo. Bring to a simmer, stirring gently. When the pasta absorbs almost all of the stock, add another cup. Keep stirring.
4. Add 1 cup of water to the measuring cup and heat in the microwave (or in the saucepan). Add 1/2 cup of the water to the orzo and cook until it is almost absorbed. Taste the pasta for doneness. If it still hasn't reached al dente status, pour in the other half cup of water and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes, or until the orzo is al dente. If the risotto isn't creamy, stir in another 1/2 cup warm water and turn off the stove.
5. Stir in the frozen peas and mushrooms. Serve and top with parmesan cheese.