Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella

I have never been a big fan of eggplant mainly because it was one of those 'gross' foods no one wants to eat.  Plus, preparing eggplant puts off a lot of people (including me), but I saw this eggplant recipe on one of my favorite blogs, smitten kitchen.  I knew that I HAD to make it!

{Cheesy and lemony goodness!}

Ben was skeptical at first--he was not a fan of eggplant either.  However, it was lost in the wonderful flavors of cheese, lemon, and oregano.

{The Dreaded Eggplant!}

{Eggplant needs to be salted to draw the bitterness and water out}

{Getting everything ready while the eggplant sits}

{I did not take off the peel on the eggplant because the original recipe didn't call for it, but I would recommend it!}

{Heating everything through before it goes in the oven}

{It smelled heavenly going into the oven!}

Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella

Serves 4

1 1/4 pounds eggplant, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound chicken breast, diced
8 ounces orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, rinsed
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 ounces mozzarella (firmer is better here) cut into 1/3-inch dice
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
3 medium tomatoes, diced
  1. Sprinkle your eggplant generously with salt and let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes. (Use this time to get the rest of the ingredients ready) After 30 minutes, rinse it well and pat it dry on towels.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350.
  3. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil and once the oil is shimmering, add the eggplant. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring pieces occasionally. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer them to paper towels to drain.
  4. Add celery and carrots to remaining oil and cook for 3 minutes before adding onion and garlic. Cook together for 5 more minutes on medium heat. Add chicken and cook through.
  5. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste and cook for two minutes more.
  6. Off the heat, add the oregano, mozzarella, parmesan, tomatoes, fried eggplant, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, many grinds of black pepper and the stock and mix well.
  7. Transfer mixture to an ovenproof baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes, then bake 20 minutes without the foil.
Do you have a vegetable you have been dreading to make?  If so, drop me a line, and I will tackle it for you!
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