By: Eleni Saltas
Giouvetsi is a comforting orzo casserole dish typically made with beef, lamb or chicken. For a vegetarian swap, ditch the meat and use mushrooms for a savory meal.
Plus, it’s Lenten friendly! I recently made this recipe for Sunday family dinner, with a special guest appearance from my monk cousin visiting from Mount Sinai. If this “would pass the muster station” all the way in Egypt, it’ll certainly land as a favorite in your own home.
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 leeks, coarsely chopped
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, sliced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, or more to taste
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 20 ounces of mushrooms (I prefer portobello or oyster mushrooms, or use a mix)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth or water
- 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon of chili flakes
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 bay leaves
- Handful of parsley, chopped
- 1 cup (250g) orzo
Step by Step Instructions
Prep your vegetables!
Finely chop the onions and dice the carrots.
For the leeks: Use just the white and a small portion of green parts of the leeks, coarsely chopped. Leeks have many layers, so place your cut leeks into a colander and rinse well.
Place a pot to medium heat and add three tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions, carrots, and leeks and season generously with salt. Saute together for 5 minutes and then add the garlic. Once all caramelized, spoon the vegetables into a bowl, leaving any olive oil in the pan and set aside for now.
Roughly chop or easily break apart the mushrooms into cubes and add mushrooms to the pot in a single layer if possible. Sprinkle with salt and allow to cook untouched for a few minutes. Liquid should be evaporating from the mushrooms. Flip the mushrooms to brown on all sides.
Add the vegetables back into the pot. Add the tomato paste and stir around in the pot for 2-3 minutes. Deglaze with the red wine and allow the wine to evaporate
Add water or vegetable broth, canned diced tomatoes, chili flakes, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf. Season well with salt and pepper and simmer for 1 ½ hours until a nice sauce forms. Occasionally check for flavor. Remove the cinnamon stick if you are happy with the cinnamon taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Once the sauce is done, pour the mixture to an oven safe casserole dish and stir in the chopped parsley.
Back to your now empty pot, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add the orzo and toast for 3-4 minutes. Doing this will ensure your orzo doesn’t get mushy or stick together later. Then, stir the orzo into the vegetable mix along with 1 1/2 cups of water and a drizzle of olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 35 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
Serve warm and enjoy!