Thursday, January 31, 2013

Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella

Can I just say that Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen is a genius and this recipe is a  prime example of her talents.  This rustic dish full of flavor and I'm always looking for ways to sneak in eggplant into meals.  My husband says he detests it but seems to eat this.  This can be served as a main dish for a hearty side for grilled steaks, chicken, etc.

 
1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 celery stalk, in a 1/4-inch dice
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, rinsed
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 to 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or more to taste, up to the zest of a whole lemon
4 ounces mozzarella, firmer is better here, cut into 1/3-inch dice
1 1/2 ounces parmesan, grated
1 can diced tomatoes, drained

Sprinkle eggplant generously with salt and let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, rinse it well and pat it dry on towels.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil and once the oil is shimmering, add the eggplant. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring pieces occasionally. Transfer fried eggplant to paper towels to drain. Add celery and carrots to remaining oil and cook for 3 minutes before adding onion and garlic. Cook together for 5 more minutes on medium heat. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste and cook for two minutes more. Off the heat, add the oregano, mozzarella, parmesan, tomatoes, fried eggplant, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon table salt, many grinds of black pepper and the stock and mix well.

Transfer mixture to an 8×11-inch (about 2 quarts) ovenproof baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes, then bake 20 minutes without the foil.

Recipe and pic from Smitten Kitchen

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