This creamy mushroom spinach orzo is a fast, one-pot recipe for busy nights! It’s plant-based and features cashew cream in place of dairy. Spinach and mushrooms add texture and nutrition to the recipe.

A zoomed in photograph of a bowl of creamy mushroom spinach orzo, which is accompanied by a fork.

I made this creamy mushroom spinach orzo a couple of weekends ago, and I fell in love with the recipe right away. It was a welcome reprieve from my cooking slump!

The recipe is greatly inspired by Sheela Prakash’s one-pot mushroom and spinach orzo for The Kitchn. Prakash is an awesome recipe developer with a knack for Mediterranean flavors. She’s also got a talent for one-pot meals.

One-pot recipes are what I need and crave often these days. This orzo fits the bill. You sauté mushrooms until they’re tender and reduced in size, stir in orzo and liquid, and allow everything to cook. You’ll need to stir the orzo a couple of times: think of the mixture as being like a risotto (orzotto?).

Once the orzo has cooked through, it’s a creamy, satisfying dish that can be either a side or a main. To make it a more filling main, you can pair stir in some some chickpeas or white white beans. As a side dish, it’s lovely with baked tofu or balsamic tempeh.

No matter what, I can vouch for a generous sprinkle of cashew parmesan on top.

A white bowl with a pale brown rim has been filled with a mixture of small pasta and greens.

A creamy pot of orzo—without dairy

Prakash’s orzo recipe calls for milk as a simmering liquid. What makes this vegan mushroom spinach orzo creamy is the use of cashew cream.

I know that I probably overuse cashew cream in my recipes, but I just can’t help it. Nothing creates more luxurious texture or is as mildly flavored as cashew cream. Non-dairy milks are great, but they’re not always creamy enough for pasta or soup. Coconut milk is very creamy, but it’s a flavor that I only like in small doses. And from a nutrition standpoint, I like that cashew cream has less saturated fat than coconut milk or cream.

You can make cashew cream with either a food processor or a powerful blender.

Can I substitute cashew cream?

If you don’t have cashew cream, or if you have a nut allergy, I recommend a vegan creamer for this recipe. There are a lot of creamer options available these days, made from different bases. Choose one that’s unsweetened, so that the savoriness of the mushroom spinach orzo will shine through.

You can also use an equivalent amount of full-fat coconut milk or silken tofu “cream” (just silken tofu that’s been blended or processed till creamy).

Mushroom spinach orzo ingredients

Orzo

Orzo is the star of this recipe, of course. You can use whatever orzo is accessible and appropriate for you. If you avoid gluten, there are gluten-free orzo options available.

One thing to keep in mind is that orzo can vary in size and thickness. I like a traditional kritharaki that I buy locally. You can also find a spelt kritharaki online. These versions are a little smaller in shape than some of the Italian orzo I’ve used in the past, so they cook more quickly.

So as you simmer the orzo for this recipe, keep in mind that cooking times might vary. Keep tasting the orzo once you think it’s ready for the appropriate doneness. You’re aiming for al dente, but tender.

Mushrooms

I generally use sliced white or button mushrooms in my cooking, though I also love shiitakes. You can use white mushrooms, shiitakes, chopped portobello mushroom caps, or baby bella mushrooms in the recipe.

Shallot & garlic

I love the way shallots taste, especially in pasta. I chop up and use two for the mushroom spinach orzo. A small, diced onion would be a perfectly good substitute!

For garlic, feel free to substitute garlic powder if you’ve run out of heads of garlic. And, as with most of my recipes, you can feel free to add more garlic if you like (I tend to be conservative with it).

Spinach

I usually stock up on baby spinach in my grocery hauls, so that I can use it in both salad and hot recipes. But regular, chopped spinach will also work well.

In place of spinach, feel free to use another leafy green that you have. Chard and kale would both work really nicely in the recipe. So would broccoli rabe, which is one of my favorite dark, leafy greens.

Vegan broth

I keep both vegetable broth and vegan no-chicken broth in my pantry. I prefer the no-chicken broth for this recipe. Lately, I’ve been substituting Yondu for broth, especially when I run out of the latter. I love its umami-rich flavor, and it would be a good substitute for the broth in this creamy recipe.

Cashew cream

The creaminess of the creamy mushroom spinach orzo! All-purpose cashew cream is my go-to.

A white bowl has been filled with creamy, plant-based orzo and vegetables.

Optional additions

As I mentioned above, chickpeas and white beans would be good means of adding plant-protein to the mushroom spinach orzo. Diced, smoked tofu would also be nice, and so would a big scoop of cooked lentils.

I’d love to try this recipe with chopped, sun-dried tomatoes, crumbled cashew cheese, tofu feta, and pitted olives. It would also be fun to stir in additional veggies, like green beans or zucchini.

Storing leftover mushroom spinach orzo

The leftovers of the mushroom spinach orzo keep very nicely, but they tend to get a little gluey as they sit in the fridge. To loosen the orzo up before serving, simply place your portion in a pot, add a splash of broth (and a little extra cashew cream, if you like) and stir over low heat until the orzo is warm.

You can also freeze leftovers of the orzo for up to four weeks.

More one-pot creamy dinners

After I made this recipe, and as I was enjoying the leftovers, it occurred to me that I have a weakness for creamy, one-pot meals. Here’s a handful of favorites:

A round, white bowl has been filled with orzo and spinach. It's resting on a bright white surface.
A zoomed in photograph of a bowl of creamy mushroom spinach orzo, which is accompanied by a fork.
5 from 4 votes

Creamy Mushroom Spinach Orzo

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Add the olive oil to a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the shallots and mushrooms. Sauté, stirring every few minutes, for 8 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft and completely reduced in size. Stir in the garlic and cook for one more minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add the orzo, vegan no-chicken broth, and cashew cream to the pot. Add 1 teaspoon salt if you're using a reduced sodium broth, or 1/2 teaspoon if you're using regular broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. 
  • Cover the pot and simmer the orzo for 10 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes. After 10 minutes, uncover the orzo and stir in the spinach in handfuls. Continue to cook, stirring the pot every minute, for 5-8 more minutes, or until the orzo is tender and the spinach has wilted into the orzo. If you need to add a splash of extra broth to loosen the orzo up, you can do that.
  • When the orzo is fully cooked, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Stir, taste, and add additional salt, lemon, and pepper as needed. Serve.

Notes

Veganized from Sheela Prakash’s recipe, published in The Kitchn.
A bright white ceramic bowl has been filled with creamy, cooked small pasta and vegetables.

It’s no secret by now that I’m getting my bearings with cooking, after months of feeling at odds with it. I have no idea how long that process will take.

What I do know is that I made this orzo without thinking too much about it—I’d seen the recipe on The Kitchn at some point in the last few weeks and made a mental note to try something similar, veganized—and it surprised me with how simple and delicious it was. My mom was happily surprised by it, too.

Maybe it’s a sign of more easeful meals to come. I hope so, but I’ll be gentle with myself if not. And I’ll keep making orzo 🙂

xo

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Recipe Rating




    9 Comments
  1. 5 stars
    Made this tonight for dinner and my husband and I loved it! Had some mushrooms to use up and wanted to make stroganoff but didn’t have all the ingredients. Found this recipe and happened to have orzo. I bought it months ago after having an orzo salad that I liked and then didn’t use it. I was a little short on cashews so usedhalf cashews and half sunflower seeds. Also used peas instead of spinach. My husband asked for seconds .

  2. 5 stars
    Very flavorful (we used the savory method). Half or 2/3 the cashews would likely still be tasty, and better for the waistline.
    As we love mushrooms we tripled the amount

  3. 5 stars
    I made this last night and it was *so* easy and delicious! I doubled everything (to avoid having to cook again for a couple of days), sautéed the veg in broth instead of oil, used diced-up portobello caps, and added a drained/rinsed can of cannellini beans with the spinach. This will definitely be making the regular rotation list in my house!

      • It really was so good and so easy! I’ve actually been thinking all morning about how to use this recipe as a jumping off point for a slightly different take: swapping out the cashew cream for some blended (cooked) butternut squash…and then adding some fresh sage at some point. Maybe just boil the squash cubes separately and then blend it with a bit of the cooking water for adding at the same point as the cashew cream? It would kill the “one pot” idea, unfortunately, but we love that flavor combo from our time spent in Italy. If you have any thoughts about how to accomplish that, please let me know…

        • I think you could add cooked squash to a blender with cooking water and cashew cream, blend it all up, and add with sage!

    • You can stir them in when you add the lemon juice, at the end! Use cooked beans (I’d say a cup or a cup and a half). I hope that you enjoy 🙂