We've eaten this dish in some form or another for the last couple of years, but I've tweaked it a little every time, finally settling on this as the best version.
I particularly like making this in a deep stainless steel skillet because 1) I feel like a real cook and 2) the browning bits of mushrooms, etc add a lot of flavor, but it doesn't all stick to the pan like crazy.
This is one of those dishes where the leftovers are just as good or even better than the original dish.
Also, this is crazy easy to make - two pots, and mainly just dumping everything in and stirring. Done in 30 minutes too; I can handle that.
Creamy Artichoke and Tomato Orzo
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms, halved and sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tsp garlic, finely minced
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 pound orzo pasta
1 cup reserved pasta water
6 ounces cream cheese
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained (and chopped, if desired)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions until tender (for me, this is around 10-15 minutes).
While the orzo cooks, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add the mushrooms and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are soft. Add the garlic and thyme, and cook, about 1 minute, stirring to keep from burning.
When the orzo is finished cooking, ladle 1 cup of the liquid into the skillet with the mushrooms. Drain the orzo over the sink and add the pasta to the skillet.
Immediately toss in the chopped tomatoes and the cream cheese. Use the spatula or spoon to break up the cream cheese a bit so it will melt more quickly.
Add the artichokes, Parmesan, and lemon juice, stirring to combine.
Bring to a simmer and let cook for about ten minutes until it's quite thick and no longer watery. Stir occasionally.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.