It’s like a mac n cheese-ish pasta bake but with some vegetables in it. My kids like broccoli, but you could get away with whatever your people like in similar volume, and cooked before adding it in. So long as the mushrooms are super small, I can squeeze those by them. Sub in peas or hunks of cooked butternut squash or add in 1/2 lb. of browned Italian sausage if you prefer an animal protein in there.

If you’re making this to deliver or freeze, assemble everything through the panko parm topper, and wrap it in foil. Pass along directions to bring it to room temperature before baking.


2 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil or butter
1 small yellow onion – chopped small
8 oz. of mushrooms – wiped clean, super well chopped
3 cloves of garlic – minced
sea salt
2/3 cup of white wine
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tsp. of fresh thyme leaves
3 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 lb. of orzo (about 1 heaping cup)
10 oz. of broccoli florets – steamed & chopped
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 lemon – zested
4 oz. of grated fontina or Italian cheese blend

1 cup of panko
1/4 cup of parmesean
extra virgin olive oil
fresh parsley – chopped


Grease an 8” pan or 10” oven-proof skillet. Preheat the oven to 400’.

In a large Dutch oven or skillet over medium, heat your oil or butter. Add the onion, and sauté a few minutes until tender. Add the mushrooms, garlic, big pinches of salt and pepper and sauté another 5 minutes, until the liquid is released and you get some browning. Stir in the wine and cook another 5 minutes to cook down. Stir in the pepper flakes, thyme, and turn off the heat.

In another pot, heat the broth to a gentle boil. Add the orzo and cook for about 7 minutes until just tender. Yes, it will absorb most of the moisture.

Transfer the orzo and any residual broth to the pot with the mushrooms. Add the steamed broccoli, cream, lemon zest, cheese and another pinch of salt and pepper. Fold everything to combine. It should be loose.

Transfer the mixture to your prepared pan. Sprinkle the panko and parm on top, and drizzle it with olive oil (it can be refrigerated for a day or frozen at this point. Bring the refrigerated one to room temperature before baking. Cook the frozen one, covered for 25 then uncovered for 20). Bake for 20 minutes, uncovered, until the top is golden brown.

Garnish with fresh herbs.

The entire casserole can be assembled up to a day in advance and baked just before serving. It can be frozen pre-bake as well.

This makes a lot of food, would be a great one to double and gift or freeze for later.

So long as you get your mushrooms and broccoli small, mine loved it!

Jovial makes a cassava-based orzo. It can get gummy, but I think it will still work here. It’s possible a long-grain brown rice would work here, too. I would just steam it before assembling, and add two eggs in there if you can to help it hold some shape.

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