Baked Orzo with Eggplant

Recipe from: Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi


7 tablespoons olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch dice
4 medium carrots, cut into 2/3 inch dice
4 celery stalks, cut into 2/3 inch dice
1 large onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
9 oz orzo pasta, rinsed
1 tsp tomato paste
1-2/3 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped
grated zest of one lemon
4 oz firm mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch dice
6 1/2 tablespoons grated parmesan
3 medium tomatoes, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 400º. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the eggplant and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels and set aside. Add the carrots and celery to the pan and fry for 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels. Turn down the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the orzo and tomato paste and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the stock, fresh oregano, and lemon zest. Add the cooked vegetables, mozzarella, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well and transfer to a rectangular baking dish, 8-1/2  by 10-1/2 inches, or a round one. Arrange the tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a grind of black pepper.

Bake for 40 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is cooked through.