Cheesy Eggplant Orzo Pasta Bake

cheesy eggplant orzo pasta bake

Now that the weather is starting to give us a few brief glimpses at Fall, I have launched into full-on craving warm comfort foods. Cheesy dishes are a bonus. Even better, this dish always makes the best leftovers for lunch the next day. When eggplants are in season this pasta bake goes right to the top of weekly meal planning. So throw on your fuzzy socks and favorite comfy sweatshirt and pop this baby into the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 1 zucchini, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 Tbs onion powder
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces orzo pasta
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (or dried if that’s more readily available)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or more to taste, up to the zest of a whole lemon
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 ounces grated parmesan
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle eggplant generously with salt and let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, rinse eggplant well and pat dry on paper towels.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Once hot, add the oil and then the eggplant. Fry for 6-8 minutes, stirring pieces occasionally. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer eggplant pieces to paper towels to drain.
  4. Add zucchini to remaining oil and saute for 5 minutes until tender.
  5. Add onion powder and garlic, stir and continue cooking for another minute or two.
  6. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste and cook for two minutes more. \
  7. Take pan off the heat and 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.
  8. Transfer mixture to an ovenproof baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Bake 20 minutes more without the foil.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

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