Baked Orzo with Artichokes and Peas

Ingredients:

Olive oil Bechamel:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp shallot, finely chopped
2 tbsp flour
2 cups 1% milk
Salt and pepper to taste

1 lemon, juiced
2 large globe artichokes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 lb orzo
3/4 cup shelled fresh peas
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp dill, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan, grated

Instructions:

Make the bechamel:

Heat the oil on medium heat in a saucepan, add the shallot and cook, while stirring until softened. Add in flour and cook for about 3 minutes or until smooth and bubbling but not browning. It should look similar to wet sand consistancy. Whisk in all the milk at once and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to lowest setting and simmer, stirring with a whisk and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan with a spatula. Cook until thickened and lost the flour taste, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Prepare the artichokes by filling a bowl with water and some lemon juice. Trim away stem and the top 1/3 of the artichoke and break off leaves and trim down to the bottoms. Place in the water as it goes. Quarter and slice until 1/4 inch thick. You can save the leaves and steam them.

Drain the artichoke hearts and dry on a clean towel. Heat oil on medium high heat in a large skillet, then add the sliced artichoke hearts. Cook, while stirring until lightly browned and tender. Season with salt and pepper and turn down the heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and remove the pan from heat.

Preheat the oven to 350F and oil a 2 quart baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the orzo for 5 minutes. Add the peas and boil for an additional 4 minutes more. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to mix in the artichokes, herbs, bechamel, and parmesan cheese. Stir until sauce coats everything, then transfer to the baking dish.

Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

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