Update: In an effort to eat healthier, I now make this dish using quinoa in place of orzo and it is just as loved around here.
The last few months have been a complete whirlwind. The journey started with an indulgent vacation devoted to food and wine in France, Spain, and Italy (food pictures to come soon), saying goodbye to very dear friends in Chicago, moving across the country, starting a new job, finding an apartment (key criteria: must have an amazing kitchen), and somehow figuring out how to completely start over in a new city.
I am finally settled in enough to start cooking (and blogging) again. Of course being in a food-and-wine-obsessed city has certainly helped to smooth the transition!
One of the first dishes I made once I moved into my new place was orzo with roasted eggplant and bell peppers. Roasted vegetables are tossed with orzo, drizzled with bright lemon, and topped with Greek feta, sweet basil, and crunchy toasted pine nuts. Using both red and yellow bell peppers and red onions adds gorgeous, happiness-inducing color to the dish. The result is a perfectly light but satisfying weeknight meal with fantastic Mediterranean flavors.
I loved the orzo so much that I was excited to have leftovers the next day, and I absolutely hate eating the same thing two days in a row. I have a feeling that this will be one of my staple weeknight dishes!
The recipe is from Ina Garten and is so perfect that I didn't feel the need to tweak it one bit. Plus I am convinced that with good olive oil and bright lemon you just can't go wrong. Throw tangy Greek feta into the mix and you just made my day!
1/2 lb orzo, or 1 cup quinoa
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced into 3/4" pieces
1 yellow pepper, diced into 1" pieces
1 red bell pepper, diced into 1"pieces
1 red onion, diced into 1" pieces
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced lenthwise
1/3 cup olive oil
2 large lemons, juiced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 scallions, white and green parts diced
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
15 basil leaves, chiffonade
12 oz Greek feta, 1/2" cubes not crumbled
Preheat oven to 425.
In a large jelly roll baking pan, toss eggplant, yellow pepper, red pepper, and red onion with garlic, olive oil, sea salt, and pepper until well-coated. Roast for 40 min, turning once with a spatula.
If using orzo, bring water to a boil, add salt, and cook orzo until tender, about 7-8 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large serving bowl.
If using quinoa, rinse quinoa in three changes of cold water and drain. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt and quinoa, bring to a boil again. Cover and reduce heat to low, cook for 15 minutes. Drain quinoa and return to saucepan, away from heat. Cover with a paper towel and replace lid. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Once vegetables are cooked, combine with orzo or quinoa with all of their juices. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and olive oil. Season generously with sea salt and pepper. Toss well with vegetable and orzo/quinoa and let cool.
Before serving combine with scallions, pine nuts, basil, and feta. Adjust seasoning as needed. Serve at room temperature.
Serves 5 to 6.