baked orzo with fontina & peas

I have been wanting to make this recipe for a week now, after Tom & I stocked up on all the cheese it included on a weekend run to Trader Joe’s. It’s kind of like a grown-up mac n’ cheese with veggies included:

4 cups chicken broth (could swap with veggie)
1 pound orzo pasta
3 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the baking
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Marsala wine
1/2 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
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.Bring the chicken 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 saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute 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.

It was yummy, got 5 stars on Food Network and 2 thumbs up from Tom. We had it with grilled chicken that had been marinated in spicy red pepper Zing sauce (the kind they serve at Angus Barn, but you can find it in the specialty North Carolina aisle at Harris Teeter). Delicious. I think the leftovers are just as good too.

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