Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta from Italy. Basmati is a fragrant Indian long-grain rice with a wonderful nutty taste. The two of them combine to make a great side dish, but you can top it with anything and turn it into a main dish. Here we’ve chosen asparagus, mushrooms, and either lima beans or fava beans. By the way, some of the American versions of basmati would work well here too. Texmati is one that’s pretty widely available.
Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 25 minutes with fava beans, 15 minutes with lima beans
Total preparation time: 35 minutes with fava beans, 25 minutes with lima beans
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup orzo
2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 pound asparagus
1/2 pound, mushrooms, preferably morels, well cleaned and halved or quartered if large
1 cup blanched, peeled fava beans or frozen baby lima beans, defrosted
1 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
Freshly milled black pepper
Truffle oil, optional
Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute; add the rice and orzo and cook, stirring, until all the grains are coated with butter, about 2 minutes. Add 2 cups broth; bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, then turn it down to a simmer. Cover very tightly and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
While the orzo is cooking, trim the ends off the asparagus and peel the bottom half if the asparagus stem is thicker than 1/3 inch. Bring a large skillet of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until just tender. Drain, pat dry, and cut into 1/2-inch lengths.
Empty and dry the skillet; melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until all the liquid the mushrooms give off has evaporated. Add the remaining 1/2 cup broth and the beans and cook for 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook until the mixture is just heated through. Stir in half the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, divide the pilaf among 4 bowls; top with the vegetable ragout and remaining cheese. Drizzle with truffle oil, if desired.