Mediterranean Baked Orzo
and steamed artichokes / pesto aioli
This baked pasta dish is made with rice-shaped orzo, cheese and a Mediterranean tomato sauce. Because orzo are so small, they don't need to be pre-cooked before baking.
Smarts: Steaming artichokes can take 30-60 minutes. If you're short on time, substitute a simple green salad or serve the hearty orzo on its own.
- 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 - 4, trimmed
- Lemon juice - 2 tsp + 1 tsp
- Bay leaf (opt) - 1
- Pesto, store-bought - 1 Tbsp
- Mayonnaise - 1/4 cup
- Artichokes - If prepping right before cooking, get water boiling so that you can start steaming artichokes before continuing with prep. Trim artichokes. (Can be done up to 4 days ahead)
- Onions / Bell peppers / Cheese - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Zucchini - Chop zucchini.
- Heat oven to 400F / 204C degrees.
- Fill a large stockpot with 1" / 2.5cm 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.
- 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.
The only thing redeeming this dish was the yummy pesto aioli. Otherwise, we were underwhelmed. Everything seemed like more work than the modest, somewhat flat flavor was worth.0 Helpful
This felt like a lot of work, though it was very good0 Helpful
Added bottled artichokes to the baked orzo. Might be good with some mushrooms. Quick and yummy.0 Helpful
Loved! We just added canned artichokes to the main dish and skipped the pesto mayo. Super tasty! My husband, the carnivore, liked it a bunch too!0 Helpful
I followed the other suggestions and used canned artichokes and added them to the sautee. I used baby spinach instead of zucchini which is what I had. The orzo was a real crowd pleaser. Favorited.0 Helpful
My kids are this up!0 Helpful