I made this recipe for the first time a couple years ago when my husband and I had my parents over for dinner one night. My mom (a fellow pescatarian) loved it, and started making it herself all the time. It is delicious as a side dish, but can also work as a vegetarian entrée.
I like to rotate the menu for my Christmas dinner each year, and I decided that this family favorite should have a place on the table this year. It worked well for the holiday, but is also good any night of the week! Serve it alongside a meat entrée, like Baked Chicken, or as an entrée itself with a simple side salad.
Baked Orzo with Fontina and Peas
(From Giada's Kitchen)
4 cups chicken broth (Kate uses vegetable broth)
1 pound orzo pasta
3 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the baking dish (Kate uses cooking spray)
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (Kate uses cremini mushrooms)
1 cup Marsala wine
½ cup heavy cream
4 ounces shredded fontina cheese (about 1 cup)
4 ounces diced fresh mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
½ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
Bring the chicken/vegetable broth to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the orzo and cook until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Pour the orzo and the broth into a large bowl. Set aside.
Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until the mushrooms are beginning to turn golden around the edges, about 7 minutes. Add the Marsala. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan and cook until the Marsala has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the mushroom mixture to the orzo in the large bowl. Add the cream, fontina, mozzarella, peas, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and dried thyme. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of the pasta. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.