This is a dish that lets me do one of my favorite things in the whole world: chop. Call me crazy, but there is nothing more therapeutic to me than getting to dice up a whole bunch of veggies. And this delicious baked orzo dish has a lot of them: eggplant, celery, carrots, and onions. So it's healthy too!
Besides all the chopping, it is actually a very straightforward and simple recipe- you don't even have to cook the pasta! After you sauté your veggies, you add your dry orzo right to the hot pan, followed by some vegetable broth and cheese. When this whole delicious mixture bakes up in the oven, the orzo soaks up the broth and cooks to a perfect al dente.
We cook very seasonally around here, and this is a perfect example of that. Not only are all these ingredients available year round, but the outcome of this recipe is something warm and comforting that is easy to cozy up to on a cold day. Yes, I am telling you to cozy up to your casserole- just do it, trust me.
Baked Orzo with Veggies, Mozzarella, and Oregano
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large eggplant, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 4 carrots, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 4 celery stalks, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 9 ounces of orzo pasta
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
- zest of one lemon
- 4 ounces of fresh mozzarella, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1 large or 2 small tomatoes, sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 390 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the eggplant and cook until the eggplant softens and is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove eggplant from the pan and set aside on paper towels.
Add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, keeping it over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and celery, cooking for 6-8 minutes or until soft. Remove veggies from pan and set aside on paper towels.
Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil to the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion and the minced garlic, and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the orzo and the tomato paste to the pan and cook over medium for two minutes longer. Add the vegetable broth, lemon zest, and fresh oregano and continue cooking for one to two minutes. Remove pan from heat.
Add the cooked veggies you had set aside, the mozzarella, the parmesan, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir well to combine. Pour into a medium sized casserole dish. Top with the sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon salt and the dry oregano.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until the orzo has soaked up all the broth and is fully cooked. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating.
adapted from delicious magazine