Food & Wine
Vegetarian Orzo Bake & Mataro Yiannoudi 2017
Weekday dinners can be stressful at the Zambartas Family. Cooking while the kids are tired and hungry from a long day. Having to juggle chopping veggies and be peacekeeper between two stubborn toddlers. However, I do like to put something on the table that is not only wholesome and healthy for the kids, but also enjoyable for the parents with a well-deserved glass of wine.
Lately, one of my favourites is an Orzo & Vegetable bake. It is very easy, wholesome, tasty (even to the kids likings!) and perfect with a glass of Mataro -Yiannoudi on a breezy summer evening!
The original base recipe comes from ‘The unlikely Staples of Summer’, by Martha Rose Shulman, but I replaced and adjusted, to include only local Cypriot vegetables and cheeses.
It became a real Cypriot dish, with the added bonus that it is vegetarian and thus better for our planet 😉
- 300 gr orzo
- 1 large roasted red pepper, diced
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium sized zucchini, sliced about 0.5cm thick
- 1 aubergine, chopped in cubes of appr. 2 cm.
- 300 gram cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 400 grams canned diced tomatoes, with juice
- 2-3 plump garlic cloves (to taste), minced
- 100 grams crumbled feta cheese
- Fresh oregano or basil (to taste)
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
- 40 grams finely crated aged anari cheese (to taste)
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and add the orzo. Cook eight minutes, or until it is cooked through but still firm to the bite. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with the diced roasted pepper and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Oil a pirex baking dish. Heat another tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, wide skillet. Add the zucchini and cook — stirring and turning over the slices, or tossing them in the pan — until just cooked through and lightly colored, about five minutes. Scrape into the bowl with the orzo.
- Return the pan to the heat, use some olive oil and add the aubergine cubes and bake on a medium-high heat until they start to soften and turn golden baked. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and bake very short until slightly soft. Add salt & pepper to taste and scrape into the bowl with the orzo.
- In the same pan, add the final tablespoon of oil and the garlic. Cook just until fragrant, 20 to 30 seconds, and add the diced tomatoes. You may add fresh herbs, such as Basil or Cyprus Oregano to taste. Stir from time to time, until the tomatoes and herbs smell fragrant. Taste and adjust seasoning. Scrape into the bowl with the orzo, add the crumbled Feta cheese, and mix everything together.
- Transfer to the baking dish and sprinkle over the crated Anari on top. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is just beginning to colour. Serve hot or warm.
Enjoy with Mataro- Yiannoudi 2017, a real summer red, which matches very well with the Cypriot cheeses and acidity of the tomato sauce.
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