Baked Eggplant and Orzo Casserole

This recipe originated with Yotam Ottolenghi, was then modified by Smitten Kitchen, and modified a bit more by me here. It’s chock full of veggies and really flavorful. Enjoy!

Here’s what you need:

1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch cubes

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and 1/4 inch diced

1 rib of celery, 1/4 inch diced

1 red onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1.5 cups orzo, rinsed

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1.5 cups vegetable broth

zest of one lemon

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (or another favorite herb)

5 ounces smoked mozzarella, or firm buffalo mozzarella, cut into 1/3 inch dice

3 medium tomatoes, or about 21 grape tomatoes, diced

Here’s what you do:

1. Place the diced eggplant in a colander. Toss generously with salt and allow to sit for about 30minutes. Prepare all the other ingredients while waiting.

2. At the end of 30 minutes, rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Add the olive oil to an oven safe pot and heat over medium high. Add the eggplant and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Move the eggplant to a plate lined with paper towels, using a slotted spoon.

3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

4. Add the carrots and celery to the pot. (Add some cooking spray or a bit more olive oil if needed.) Cook for 3 minutes.

5. Add the onions and garlic to the celery and carrots, and cook for another 5 minutes.

6. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste, and cook another 2 minutes.

7. Remove from the heat, and stir in lemon zest, oregano, cheese, tomatoes, a teaspoon of salt, and some grinds of pepper.

8. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes, removing the cover at 20 minutes for a crispier top or at 30 minutes for a softer top.

Enjoy!

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