Baked Orzo with Veggies, Goat Cheese, and Oregano

January 29, 2015
Baked Orzo with Veggies, Goat Cheese, & Oregano - A luxurious pasta bake, that's comforting in every way. Fresh veggies, goat cheese, and fresh oregano lend sophistication and character

“Be good puppies; I'll be right back.”

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Photo Credit: Huffington Post

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He cocked his head from one side to the other, carefully scanning our surroundings for anyone looking shifty, while I slung the gym bag over my shoulder.  His eyes met mine, wondering what the heck we were doing outside this unfamiliar place

“Me too big guy, me too.  But here goes nothing ..”

Life lesson #4945 – Never forget what it feels like to be a brand new person at the gym

There are logistics.  “Which way to the potty?  Is there a water fountain?  Should I put my things here?  How does class flow?  Are people nice?  Do I sign-in?  Please tell me one more time, your name is?  If someone is late, how many burpees are required?  (It seems best not to find out)”  

New lingo

“Air Squat?  Sumo Deadlift High Pull?  Wallballs?  WOD?  Ab mats?  Bumper Plates?  Gorilla Stance?  D Ball Throws?”

Baked Orzo with Veggies, Goat Cheese, & Oregano - A luxurious pasta bake, that's comforting in every way. Fresh veggies, goat cheese, and fresh oregano lend sophistication and character

Terms that bring a twinge of fear

“Handstand Push-ups?  Sumo Deadlift High Pulls?  Ummm .. perhaps there was a misprint on the number of those we're supposed to do?”

All of your idiosyncrasies that no one knows about yet

“Like needing to be in front of a fan because you overheat during cardio, or that all lower back exercises will have to be modified.  You'll have to know everyone's name because it's fun to whisper words of encouragement during class, and you can't come on Wednesdays because you'll be at yoga class instead.  Abandoned water bottles?  Oh yes, you're forever leaving them behind; please just leave them in the corner of the front desk.”

Or

“Others can always tell if you're at class because in the parking lot there will be a car running, with a radio tuned to NPR, and two puppies inside taking their morning nap.  Their owner ever hopeful they're finding some zen.”

How did my first CrossFit class .. (ever!) go?

( .. to be continued .. )

Baked Orzo with Veggies, Goat Cheese, & Oregano - A luxurious pasta bake, that's comforting in every way. Fresh veggies, goat cheese, and fresh oregano lend sophistication and character

A favorite recipe from the weekend

I've always loved meals made in casserole pans, they bubble as they're pulled from the oven, and are filled with incredible taste.  Comfort food at it's finest

This recipe is far from the classic pasta bakes I ate as a kid served at potlucks in church basements.  As I think back, they tended to be filled with a pound of cheese, cream of something soups, butter, or a tub of ricotta.  Today, I find those combinations simply too much.

I flagged this recipe the minute I read it, a luxurious pasta bake full of veggies, and fresh oregano to lend a hint of sophistication and character.  It's hands down, one of the best pasta meals we've ever eaten.

Note the most difficult part of the prep work is chopping the veggies; after that, it's pretty much mix together and bake.  Also, since having tried The Plan, I've developed a great fondness for goat cheese and substituted liberally.

Enjoy!

xoxo

~ Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi | Plenty More

Baked Orzo with Veggies, Goat Cheese, and Oregano

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant cut into ¾" dice (~ 4 cups)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ⅔" dice
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into ⅔" dice
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 9 oz orzo pasta, rinsed (gluten-free if you’re avoiding gluten)
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 ⅔ cup vegetable stock
  • 3 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 ½ Tbsp fresh thyme leaves)
  • zest of 1 lemon (organic is a good idea here)
  • 8 oz goat cheese, crumbled into large chunks, or cut into ½" dice
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 medium tomatoes cut into ½" thick slices
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • sea salt + freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 400° F
  • In a large skillet, over medium-high temp, heat the olive oil. Add the eggplant, and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it's a golden brown color. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels
  • Still using the same pan, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Cook for five minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the orzo and tomato paste and cook for a further two to three minutes
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the stock, oregano, and lemon zest
  • Add the cooked vegetables, goat cheese, Parmesan, 1 tsp sea salt, and ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper. Mix well and transfer to a baking dish
  • Arrange the tomatoes on top and sprinkle with dried oregano, ¼ tsp salt, and a grind or two of black pepper
  • Bake for 40 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is cooked through.
  • Remove, and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving
Serves: 6
Nutrition + Show
Rating:
Calories 423
Total Fat 19g
Saturated Fat 7.2g
Carbohydrates 49.3g
Fiber 7.8g
Sugars 11.6g
Protein 15.8g
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