This pasta dish is a meal of its own. It is good year-round, but it is truly the best in the summer when you go out to your garden and pick up couple zucchinis, few tomatoes and one eggplant. I always make two trays, one to eat now and one to eat on a cold day in winter when I long for my garden’s vegetables. So, go on and give this dish a try! I’m sure it will become the new favorite healthy, vegetarian recipe in your home.
Zucchini and Eggplant Orzo Gratin
1 pound orzo, or any small pasta
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium eggplant, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
5 cloves garlic, mashed
5 medium ripe tomatoes, or 1 16-ounces can crushed tomatoes
1/2 pound small balls of fresh mozzarella or large piece of fresh mozzarella cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
-Heat the oven to 395 degree F.
-Heat half of olive oil in shallow frying pan. Sauté the vegetables over medium heat, stirring often, until the vegetables are cooked but not mushy. Remove from the heat and set aside.
-To make the tomato sauce: Drop the tomatoes in boiling water, bring back to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from heat, cool and then remove the thin skin. Place the tomato in food processor and puree. Heat the rest of the olive oil in saucepan and sear the mashed garlic for few seconds. Pour the crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cove and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the basil, remove from heat and set aside.
-To prepare the orzo: Bring salted water to a boil, drop the orzo and cook until the orzo is cooked but not mushy about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain.
-To assemble: Pour half of the tomato sauce on the bottom of 6 X 11 inch baking dish. Spoon the orzo on the of the sauce. Spoon the vegetables on top of the orzo. Spoon the rest of the tomato sauce and then dot with the mini mozzarella balls.
-Bake in the oven for 10 minutes and then broil for couple minutes. Remove and serve with hot garlic bread and you are set.
*If you assemble the dish the day before, bake for 25 minutes or the dish is hot through,.