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Orzo with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions

Servings: 4 to 6

Caramelized onions are a most rewarding kitchen project because there are so many ways to use them. Make a double batch and freeze half to use later in a frittata or soup. Here, their sweet allium notes combine with thyme, garlic, and mushrooms in a comforting bowl of pasta.


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, halved or quartered
  • 2 medium white onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 lb. dried orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for serving
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish


In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add half of the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Repeat with 2 Tbs. oil and remaining mushrooms. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup oil to the pan, and heat over medium-high until smoking. Add onions and cook, covered, until light brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup water to the pan and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until all the water has evaporated and onions look more browned, about 5 minutes. Carefully add the wine, and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine is evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add the garlic, thyme, pasta, 8 cups water, and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently until the pasta appears creamy and has absorbed most of the water, 10 to 12 minutes.

Drain any liquid from the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to pan, and cook, uncovered, until all the water has absorbed and the pasta has doubled in size and cooked to al dente, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Add the Parmigiano, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide among pasta bowls, garnish with additional Parmigiano and the parsley, and serve immediately.


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Reviews (4 reviews)

  • Anna_M | 04/30/2021

    It has potential, but it needs to be tweaked to be better. I followed the recipe, but divided by half. It came out with more moisture/soupier than the picture. So I would suggest making with a little less water - more can always be added. And a bit more salt was necessary to be good. This made A LOT, which is a nice upside, because if you tweak it how you like it, it is good for large groups - more like 12 than 6.

  • GGaz | 04/26/2021

    We were really disappointed in the results after following this recipe to the letter. Tasteless !! No flavor at all and the instrunctions were complicated.
    A mushroom risotto containing almost the same condiments but cooked with stock is far superior.
    Surprised Fine Cooking let this one be published

  • donp17 | 04/23/2021

    I agree with good not great. Instructions were more complicated than necessary. Onions never carmalized. Sort of risotto-ish result. I'll chop up some chicken sausages into the leftovers.

  • JDinNapa | 04/14/2021

    Made this tonight and it was good but not great. I felt it needed more mushrooms and seasoning. Next time I would add a package of dried shiitakes along with everything else including the mushroom hydration liquid in place of some of the water. I would also double the amount of fresh thyme used. My husband would also add rendered pancetta to kick up the flavors even more. It’s a good start, just needs more flavor.

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