Toasted Orzo

Toasted Orzo

I had forgotten about this recipe for a while. I made it for a crowd many years ago and was asked for the recipe by a few of the guests.   They are still raving about it.  Since they reminded me of it I have put it back into my regular rotation of recipes.

Orzo is pasta in the shape of rice and makes a great side dish hot or as a cold salad.  Toasting the orzo in the oven before cooking it is an unusual step and  it gives it a wonderful, nutty flavour.  This makes a great side for pork or chicken. The mushrooms contribute to the nutty, earthy flavour of it so anything that mushrooms go well with, this will too.  I served it with schnitzel in the spirit of  Jaeger schnitzel.

The recipe calls for fresh tarragon.  If you like tarragon go for it.  I like it better without but my guests liked it in – so – it is up to you!

This makes a lot- about 12 servings so it is great for a crowd.  You may want to halve it if you only have a few people or you will be eating left overs! May not be a bad thing – it reheats well!

Toasted Orzo

Toasted Orzo

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb orzo
  • 2 Tbsps oil
  • 6 shallots minced
  • 1 1b sliced mushrooms (I like Cremini)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup white wine (Or use another cup of broth)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup cream (I used 10%)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, minced optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lay orzo out in single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Toast in oven about 20 minutes. Orzo will be a medium brown.
  • Sautée shallot in oil about 4 minutes. Use a large skillet since you will be adding all other ingredients in shortly.
  • Add mushrooms and sautée another 10 minutes.
  • Add broth, wine if using, orzo and bay leaf to the skillet.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook uncovered til orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed - about 20 minutes.
  • Stir in cream and tarragon if using. Simmer another 5 minutes and serve.

Eggplant Napoleons

Eggplant Napoleons

We are having a heat wave in Ontario this week so I was planning for a meal that I could cook on the grill.  I was working on a ‘supper on a stick’ theme!  I experimented with various types of meatballs that I could skewer and then I hit on these little vegetable stacks.  They turned out pretty awesome if I do say so myself!

I used Kirkland Basil Pesto sauce ready made. There are lots of awesome pesto recipes out there but I don’t always have enough basil to make my own.  And.. have you seen the price of pine nuts lately?  They are crazy expensive.. so I looked it up. Apparently pine nuts typically come from China or Russia.  The crops have not been up to par for the past 2 years while demand was going up as people became aware of them as an ingredient for pestos, sauces,  salads etc.  Add to that the process of extracting the nuts from the pine cones is very labour intensive… and here we are today…expensive pine nuts.

You may find that the large end of the eggplant is too big to use for this recipe,depending on the size and the  shape of the eggplant you use.  I only used the ‘neck’ portion to make 8 vegetable stacks.  I used up the fat end in another delicious Vegetable Strudel recipe.   Elegant and good for you too!

I also experimented with using mini Bocconcini cheese in the spirit of a Caprese salad on a stick but it melted as it cooked and was too bland.  The goat cheese was far better since the eggplant really only takes on whatever flavour you add to it.  You could use other dense, flavourful cheeses as well.  Just be sure they don’t melt too quickly and slide off the base.

Eggplant Napoleons

Eggplant Napoleons

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Course: Appetizer, Main Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Servings: 4 people 2 stacks each

Ingredients

  • 8 slices eggplant round slices, approx 1/2" thick
  • 1 Tbsp garlic oil
  • 2 Tbsps basil pesto
  • 1 medium yellow or sweet onion
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 8 slices roma tomatoes 1/4 inch thick (about 2 tomatoes)
  • 8 slices goat cheese 1/4" thick (approx 4 oz)
  • 8 basil leaves
  • coarse sea salt and fresh black pepper for finishing
  • 8 sturdy toothpicks or short skewers

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Slice onion 1/8-1/4 inch thick and add to pan. Add brown sugar and thyme. Stir well and reduce heat to med-low. Stir frequently to prevent burning, Saute approx 20 minutes til onions are golden colour.
  • Wash and slice eggplant into crosswise rounds.
  • Brush garlic oil on both sides of the eggplant slices.
  • Spread pesto on the top side of the eggplant slice.
  • Top each slice with a tablespoon or so of caramelized onion.
  • Add a tomato slice on top of the onion, then the goat cheese slice and top with the basil leaf.
  • Hold the stack together with a sturdy toothpick or bamboo skewer.
  • To BBQ, spray cooking oil on a BBQ tray. Position stacks on the tray and BBQ on medium heat 15-20 minutes. Or bake in 350 degree oven 15-20 minutes. You could broil at then end for a minute or 2 until the goat cheese starts to brown.
  • Finish with a pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.