I’m always game for a new eggplant recipe. I came across a baked orzo recipe on Smitten Kitchen. Her variation included carrots and celery. From past experiences I know that I do not like the sweetness carrots bring to a dish so I made a few savory changes and added artichokes and olives.
I can say that this recipe is honestly one of the best I have made. Sometimes you mess around with a recipe and it comes out eh… well this is anything but eh. Now, I will admit it took a little time and involved a good bit of ingredients. So this isn’t a quick meal to make on a week night but it is well worth the effort. You can even split it up into two dishes and freeze one for a later date (I did).
- 1 Large Eggplant, cubed
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 Cup olive oil
- 1 Medium onion, finely diced
- 3 Cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Heaping cup of orzo
- 1 Spoonful of tomato paste
- 1 Can artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
- 1/2 Cup sliced kalamata olives, more if you prefer
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 3 Tablespoons fresh oregano, roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 to 2 Cups firm fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
- 1/2 Heaping cup Parmesan cheese
- 3 Tomatoes, diced
- Salt & Pepper
- Place eggplant in a colander and sprinkle heavily with kosher salt, sit for 30 minutes. This will draw out some of the bitterness and moisture in the eggplant. While this is going on, prepare your other ingredients. After 30 minutes, rinse eggplant well and dry on a towel.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large pan, I used my 12 inch cast iron pan, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil.
- When oil is hot, add eggplant and saute for 8 minutes.
- Remove eggplant with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
- In the hot pan, use the remaining oil to saute onion and garlic for approximately 3 minutes or until translucent.
- Add orzo and tomato paste, mix well and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Turn off heat and stir in olives and artichokes until combined and heated.
- Slowly add broth and remaining ingredients plus 1 scant teaspoon of table salt and several grinds of fresh pepper. Note: Mix the cheeses in last.
- Transfer mixture to a large baking dish or two small/medium dishes. I chose two medium sized dishes. One to bake and one to save.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes to brown the top.
- Allow dish to set for 5 minutes before serving.
- Enjoy with rosemary bread.
I have found that I am heavy handed when I pour and add my ingredients. Maybe that is why I ended up with two medium dishes of the orzo bake. I hope it translates the same when you try. Note: if you don’t have fresh oregano use a few teaspoons of dried.
I hope you give this recipe a try, it really is great.