Daughter: I want Italian.
Son: I want rice or Mac & Cheese or better yet Curd Rice.
Husband: I want simple dinner or no dinner at all (Nowadays this is what I get when I ask him what to cook?).
Me: I feel like cooking all different meals and mixing them in one big vessel and serve it as one dish.
I love one pot meals and the closest Italian pasta that resembles rice is orzo. So I chose to make orzo with roasted vegetables and feta cheese. I love Ina Garten’s recipes as they are very simple, elegant and I love the way she makes them so delectable. I haven’t roasted vegetables in the oven (lazy is the only excuse here) and I had the misconception that roasting vegetables in oven is similar to sauteeing them in a pan in high heat. Boy, I was wrong, the vegetables get a charred flavor with crispy outer layer and juicy inside that is no way comparable to sauteed version. This recipe is very easy and quick to make and can be a great crowd pleaser. Topped with feta cheese and fresh basil leaves they give a unique flavor and aroma to the dish that’s just so perfect.
Orzo — 16 oz (1 lb) packet
Garlic — 3 to 4 medium pods (finely minced)
Eggplant — 1 small (3/4 inch diced)
Red Bell Pepper — 1 (1 inch diced)
Zucchini — 2 small (1 inch diced)
Onion — 1 (1 inch diced)
Olive Oil — 2 Tbsp
Salt — 1 1/2 tsp
Ground Black Pepper — 1/2 tsp
Lemon Juice — 1/3 cup (juice of 2 lemons)
Olive Oil — 3 Tbsp
Salt — 1 tsp
Ground Black Pepper — 1/2 tsp
Scallions (Green Onions) — 4 (finely dice white & green part)
Pine Nuts (toasted) — 1/4 cup (optional, I didn’t use it)
Feta Cheese — handful (I used crumbled feta)
Fresh Basil Leaves — 15 (wash and finely cut like julienne)
1. In a cookie sheet, toss eggplant, zucchini, onions, bell pepper, garlic with olive oil and ground black pepper. Roast the vegetables in 425F oven for about 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are brown and well roasted.
2. Meanwhile, cook orzo as per the package instructions. Pour cold water on orzo to stop the cooking process. Keep aside. In another bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper until well blended. (Note: This dressing can be used in other salads as dressing too)
3. In a large bowl, mix orzo, dressing and toss until the orzo is well coated. Add the roasted vegetables to the orzo and combine well. (Note: Combine everything when the orzo is hot as it absorbs the flavor most when its hot). Just before serving, garnish with feta cheese and basil leaves. Enjoy!!!
Note: You can try to make this roasted vegetables and feta cheese with quinoa or Cous-Cous for variation.
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