Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baked Orzo with Roasted Fennel and Red Peppers

What is not to love about this dish?  Pasta, roasted vegetables, cheese, and olives -- sounds like a delicious combination to me!  Baked Orzo with Roasted Fennel and Red Peppers from The Roasted Vegetable is a really easy dinner to prepare.  It took a little over 30 minutes to prep the veggies, roast them, and cook the pasta, and then another 30 minutes in the oven to finish the dish.

I love orzo, but I have to confess that I find it difficult to cook.  It's so easy to overcook (well at least for me it is).  Luckily for me I timed it just right tonight!  When I tossed all the ingredients together the smell was just amazing!  I was tempted to eat it right then, but I'm glad I waited.  

This dish was delicious and rich.  The feta was salty and creamy, and the olives and capers added a nice bite to the pasta.  I've never had roasted fennel, and it was so tasty -- sweet with just a touch of licorice flavor!  I can't wait to make this dish again, but as good as it was I can't help but think of ways to modify it.  Maybe add roasted artichokes?  Or chicken?  How about I skip the baking part, add some lemon juice, and serve as a pasta salad -- yum!

Baked Orzo with Roasted Fennel and Red Peppers
The Roasted Vegetable
Yield:  4 to 6 servings

1 medium size fennel bulb, cut into matchsticks, stalks discarded, and feather leaves chopped
1 medium size red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound orzo
2 medium size ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped brine-cured black olives, such as Kalamata
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tbsp capers, drained

Preheat the oven to 425

     Combine the fennel bulb, bell pepper, shallot, and garlic in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Add 2 tbsp of the oil and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange in a shallow layer.
     Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender, stirring once or twice for even cooking.  Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350.
     Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain well.
     Add the orzo and remaining 1 tbsp oil to the baking dish and toss to coat.  Add the tomatoes, cheese, olives, parsley, capers, and 1 tbsp of the chopped fennel leaves.  Toss together.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
     Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until cheese is melted.  Serve hot.

Now I know I said I was only going to cook three to four days out of the week from cookbooks, but I couldn't help but notice the recipe on the facing page:  Ziti with Roasted Onions.  Okay, I have to try that, so tomorrow we're having pasta again!

Tomorrow Night:  Ziti with Roasted Onions

1 comment:

  1. This was a delicious meal... I would highly recommend this recipe. I was impressed with the ingredients list. Usually I tend to ignore recipes with this many ingredients because I see them as too complicated (for me) to cook. Ann did a great job with this. It will go fast!