Mediterranean Baked Orzo
with steamed artichoke / pesto aioli
- Artichokes - 4, trimmed
- Lemon juice - 2 tsp + 1 tsp
- Bay leaf (opt) - 1
- Pesto, store-bought - 1 Tbsp
- Mayonnaise - 1/4 cup
- Onions, medium - 1, chopped
- Bell peppers, fire-roasted - 3/4 cup, chopped
- Cheese, fresh mozzarella - 5 oz, cubed
- Zucchini - 1 lb, chopped
- Oil, olive - 1 Tbsp
- Tomato paste - 3 Tbsp
- Pesto, store-bought - 1/4 cup
- Italian seasoning - 1 tsp
- Pasta, uncooked orzo - 1 cup
- Stock, any type - 1 3/4 cups
- Artichokes - If prepping right before cooking, get water boiling so that you can start steaming artichokes before continuing with prep. Trim artichokes. Alternatively, you can steam artichokes in an Instant Pot for 9 to 15 minutes at high pressure and do a manual release. (Can be done up to 4 days ahead)
- Onions / Bell peppers / Cheese / Zucchini - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Heat oven to 400F / 204C degrees.
- Fill a large stockpot with 1" / 2.5 cm of water. Season with some salt and add the first portion of lemon juice and bay leaf (if using). Place a steamer basket (if you don't have a steamer, you can simmer the artichokes directly in the water) over the water. Put the lid on the stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. (Alternatively, you can steam artichokes in an Instant Pot for 9 to 15 minutes at high pressure and do a manual release.)
- When water is boiling, reduce to a simmer. Place artichokes, stem-side up, over simmering water. Cover and allow artichokes to steam until the leaves can easily be pulled from the choke, 35 to 60 minutes (depending on the size of the artichokes). Check the artichokes every 10 minutes or so and add additional water, if needed. (Watch this video to see how to steam artichokes.)
- While artichokes steam, heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil and then onions and zucchini with a pinch of salt. Saute until very tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add bell peppers, tomato paste, pesto (the portion for the orzo), Italian seasoning, and orzo. Stir to combine.
- Pour stock over top and bring to a simmer. Stir in mozzarella and cover with a lid. Bake, covered, until orzo is tender, 13 to 16 minutes.
- While artichokes and orzo cook, make pesto aioli. Combine pesto (the portion for the artichokes), mayonnaise, and the second portion of lemon juice.
- Serve artichokes with pesto aioli for dipping (again, check out this video for tips on enjoying every last bite of an artichoke). Enjoy with orzo on the side.
Good and easy bake. I added canned white cannellini beans because I thought we would miss the protein, which was a good match for the dish.1 Helpful
Soooo good. I loved this so much. True comfort meal! And the leftovers were excellent. We made a few substitutions - I forgot to buy pesto so we left that out, and our jarred peppers had gone bad in the fridge so I just cut up some fresh peppers and sauteed them in with the onions and zucchini. We also skipped the artichoke side.0 Helpful
I left out the artichokes and didn’t have sun-dried tomatoes. I added spinach and fennel sausage. I did the whole thing in a pot on the stove it definitely didn’t need as long to cook as in the oven the orzo was slightly overcooked. You can definitely modify this recipe to your taste. My kids did not love but husband and I did.0 Helpful
Really Tasty! We added some chicken sausage to it and put the artichokes (canned) in the orzo to have it all together. Loved the seasoning & pesto in there. Even better that it was all one-pan.0 Helpful
Didn't buy the artichokes, but did buy canned ones to throw in the orzo. SO DELICIOUS.0 Helpful
Super easy. I might use shredded mozzarella instead of fresh because the fresh seemed to clump up instead of melt evenly. Added some of our leftover bruchetta to it - adds some protein and kept the flavor. Didn't have artichokes, so roasted brussel sprouts instead. Used red pesto instead of green pesto - liked how that turned out.0 Helpful
I added some fresh garlic and a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes to the orzo. Like others said, this also turned out a little soupy, but I wasn't exact with my liquid measurements. This was yummy on its own, but I threw in some grilled sausage at the end, which I feel enhanced the flavor.0 Helpful