July 15, 2011

Vegetarian Recipe #3: Creamy Artichoke and Tomato Orzo

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

Serves 4

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.


  1. This is a dumb question, but does it taste, uh, artichoke-y? It looks delicious but my husband will not eat artichokes after that one time I tried to cook a whole one years back and he declared it like eating a porcupine.

  2. I've never actually had orzo, but this looks delicious. We're trying to add more original recipes to our arsenal, and I may give this a whirl soon.

  3. Do you use fresh or canned mushrooms?

  4. Ha! My can of artichoke hearts sat in my fridge for so long that I finally (like last week) dumped it into something random that I was making. Isn't that how it goes?

  5. You do realize that every time (and I do mean every) you post anything having to do with food, you completely rework my menu for the week?

  6. I made this tonight. It was the first time I ever cooked dinner since moving into my house. (Almost two years ago.)

    That's pathetic, but I thought you would want to know that this is the recipe that brought me out of my cooking sabbatical.

  7. Yum! I just posted an orzo recipe on my blog too. It's such a versatile little pasta! I'll have to try your recipe soon. :)

  8. Excited that I have all of the ingredients to make this! I go through these crazy phases where I buy the Costco size of artichoke hearts...it gets kind of stressful there at the end ;)


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