Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

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Sometimes it can be frustrating to have a picky eater in the household. Well, maybe not really picky, but a person who refuses to eat certain foods that you happen to like. Enter my loving husband. He *hates* eggplant because of it's texture and won't go near any dish that involves it. The only way I can get away with making a dish with eggplant is if we have company who would eat it along with me. When we threw our Mediterranean Grill Party recently, it was the perfect opportunity for me to make this Orzo with Roasted Vegetables since it's chock full of vegetables including eggplant, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and it's a delicious and colorful side dish to compliment Mediterranean flavors...

Ina does it again with her recipe. I did adapt it a bit by adding some additional vegetables and omitting a few ingredients in the assembly of the dish. But overall, the key part of this recipe is the flavor that comes out when roasting vegetables. There's a slight smokiness that really adds a depth of flavor from roasting diced eggplant, bell peppers, mushrooms and onions... but yet, a subtle sweetness comes through since these vegetables are roasted until caramelized. These vegetables are then tossed with perfectly cooked orzo pasta and dressed with a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. To finish off the dish, I added some black olives, freshly diced tomatoes, a sprinkling of Italian parsley for color and crumbled feta cheese for a bit of salty tang.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
recipe adapted from Ina Garten

1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
1 cup white button mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound orzo or rice-shaped pasta
1/4 cup pitted black olives
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
3/4 pound good feta, 1/2-inch diced (not crumbled)

Dressing:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables.

Let cool to room temperature, then garnish with olives, tomatoes, parsley and feta cheese. Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

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