Creamy Orzo with Mushrooms and Bell Peppers

Are you guys familiar with Coursera? It’s kind of amazing. Evan and I first heard about it while watching a Ted talk by it’s creator (click the link and go watch it!) and have checked it out off and on ever since. (Side note: Ted talks are some of my favorite things. We’ve fallen out of the habit of watching them regularly, but they really are so cool.) Anyways, Coursera is an online collection of free classes on a wide variety of subjects. Evan and I haven’t been great about actually completing courses (or really signing up for many of them) but ever so often we’ll be talking about something we wish we knew more about, and we’ll check to see if there’s a Coursera class on the subject. It’s a really nice resource to know about.

Occasionally Coursera will send me emails with classes that it thinks I might like based on classes I’ve looked at in the past. A few weeks ago it did just that and told me about this super awesome course coming up in March called The Science of Gastronomy. You should watch their little video; the professors look awesomely goofy. Anyways, I signed up and I’m super psyched for it to start! You should take it with me! Let’s get cooking in our own “DIY laboratories, our own kitchens!” (That will make more sense after you watch their video.)

I’m especially excited for the sauces section of their class. I took a culinary class in college given by some chefs in my major and learned the difference a good sauce can make in pulling together and fancy-ing up a meal, but I don’t actually remember how to make any of them! I’m also glad they have two whole lessons on how to cook a perfect steak. I am not a pro steak cooker. Honestly, cooking meat freaks me out a little. I have no problem eating meat, I just don’t love touching it when it’s raw. Or wondering whether or not I’ve cooked it thoroughly enough to make it safe. This kind of thing leads to overcooked steaks, which is why we almost never have steak. And why we have a meat thermometer. Aaaanyways, I’m pretty excited about the class. Let me know if you want to take it with me and we can motivate each other! It’s always easier to stick with something when you have someone else to keep you accountable.

In other news, I have a delicious meal for you today! I’ll warn you, it’s not a looker, but the first time we ate it I had thirds. That doesn’t happen very often unless we’re talking about brownies. In which case it happens every time. But this meal is delicious! I reduced the cream cheese and chicken significantly from the original recipe, but honestly, it didn’t taste lacking at all. Just be sure you add enough pasta water at the end to make sure it’s not dry. I hope you enjoy this one!

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Creamy Orzo with Mushrooms and Bell Peppers

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 average sized chicken breast, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound orzo pasta
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 2 cups reserved pasta water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon, thoroughly juiced
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Boil a pot of water and cook orzo according to package directions. When orzo is tender, reserve two cups of cooking water, drain, and set aside. While water is boiling and pasta is cooking, dice your pepper, mince your garlic, and quarter your mushrooms. Also dice your chicken and season with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken and brown on all sides. The pasta does not have to be completely cooked through at this point, just well browned. Add the peppers, mushroom, and thyme and cook until the chicken is cooked through and mushrooms and peppers have softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute. Add the cubed cream cheese and stir until cheese is melted and everything is thoroughly coated. Add one cup of the reserved pasta water, salt, and pepper. Stir in the orzo, parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. Add more pasta water as needed, until pasta looks well sauced. (Is that a thing? It is now.) Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve with additional parmesan and parsley to garnish.

Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

STEP BY STEP PHOTOS

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Boil a pot of water and cook orzo according to package directions. When orzo is tender, reserve two cups of cooking water, drain, and set aside. While water is boiling and pasta is cooking, dice your pepper, mince your garlic, and quarter your mushrooms.

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Also dice your chicken and season with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken and brown on all sides. The pasta does not have to be completely cooked through at this point, just well browned.

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Add the peppers, mushroom, and thyme and cook until the chicken is cooked through and mushrooms and peppers have softened, about 5 minutes.

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Add garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute.

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Add the cubed cream cheese

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And stir until cheese is melted and everything is thoroughly coated. Add one cup of the reserved pasta water, salt, and pepper.

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Stir in the orzo, parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. Add more pasta water as needed, until pasta looks well sauced. (Is that a thing? It is now.) Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed.

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Serve with additional parmesan and parsley to garnish. Mmmm. That is one addicting bowl of goodness. I love the body the quartered mushrooms give it. I think I might quarter instead of slice more often. I hope you enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Creamy Orzo with Mushrooms and Bell Peppers

  1. That looks really yummy, I will have to try it. Thank you for the link to coursera, so many cool classes! I want to enroll in one, but probably should wait till our school year is over at the beginning of May.

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