I’ve been having a dilemma with my eating schedule lately, in that I eat lunch at work at 12:30 and by the time I get home I’m starving. But I want to work out after work, so I don’t want to eat a full dinner. So I do things like eat a half a bag of gluten free tortilla chips (not sure why we have those- no one in my family is gluten free) so that I don’t pass out on the elliptical but then I’m not hungry for dinner. Plus we had no food in our house, as per usual. Today that actually worked out well because I met my friend Sarah at Tully’s for dessert, so the gigantic cookie monster that I ate too fast to photograph was my dinner and my dessert. I’m still finding traces of hot fudge on my hands and face.
I prepared this orzo dish for dinner a few nights ago and sadly the leftovers are finally gone (hence the gluten free chips instead of delicious pasta and veggies). I doubled it for no reason other than wanting to eat it cold for 4 days. It’s that good. This recipe is one of my favorites, partly because it’s delicious and partly because I got it from my home cook idol, Nicky. She’s one of my mom’s best friends and she’s hysterical and also an excellent cook. I aspire to feed my family as well as she does someday. We used to vacation with Nicky’s family and two others to Hilton Head Island, and we still have periodic “Hilton Head parties,” one of which is on Sunday. The excitement for these parties is on par with Christmas or my birthday. Which is coming in two weeks. I’m asking for a Kitchenaid Mixer and perhaps a Wegmans gift card.
This dish does have a lot of steps, but none of them are hard it just takes a little while to prepare. Start by chopping up your veggies. I decided on a whim to grill the vegetables this time so I cut them into larger pieces, but if you’re roasting them in the oven which I normally do, cut them to bite-size. I also added some grilled corn because we had it. It was fab.
Prepare your dressing- olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, kosher salt, and pepper. Pour a little of this over the veggies and toss until they’re evenly coated. Reserve the rest of the dressing. Either space your vegetables on the grill or stick them in the oven to roast at 425.
Prepare one box of orzo pasta in boiling, salted water. If you’ve watched Food Network ever, you know how important salting the water is. Make it taste like the ocean, preferably the stretch of the Atlantic along my precious Hilton Head.
When your pasta is cooked, drain it and set it aside. Get started preparing your garnishes: basil, pine nuts, scallions (which I forgot- whoops), and feta.
Once your vegetables are thoroughly roasted/grilled to perfection, toss them together with the pasta and the remaining dressing. I recommend adding the dressing slowly and tasting as you go for quality control- you don’t want it to get too oily. Top with the basil, pine nuts, scallions, and feta.
This can be served hot, cold, or room temperature. It can be served as a main dish or a side. You can eat it with bread and salad or green eggs and ham. You can eat it while drinking your favorite Baltimore beer from Clipper City left behind from your sister’s visit. Just make it.
Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into bit size pieces
2 bell peppers (preferably different colors) chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 box orzo pasta
For the dressing:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
15 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
3/4 lb feta, chopped (or use crumbled if you’re lazy- no judgment)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the vegetables in about 1/3 of the dressing and spread on a baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes until browned, turning once with a spatula. Meanwhile, cook the orzo until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, adding any liquid and seasoning from the pan. Add the rest of the dressing in portions until desired taste and consistency. Add the toppings and serve at any temperature. Serves 6, easily doubled.