First of all, THANK YOU for your kind words and excitement surrounding my cookbook announcement! I am so glad we can talk about Love Real Food now. My mind has been so preoccupied with the book lately that I haven’t been able to come up with much to talk about, other than the weather. I’m tired of talking about the weather. (Are you tired of hearing me ramble on about the weather? Yes? I don’t blame you.)
Now we can talk cookbook, too. Your enthusiasm got me all fired up last week and kept me fueled through shooting six recipes on Friday. Thank you! I keep forgetting that I can share the process now, but I promise to start sharing sneak peaks of #loverealfoodbook this week.
I designed the cookbook’s recipe list to be more season-less than seasonal, because I want most of the recipes to appeal to you and be available to you year-round. That means I’ve been reserving the super seasonal recipes for the blog, which is fun because I can publish them when they’re prime for the making.
Like, this pasta dish. It’s perfect for this time of year. It’s not too hot outside to crank up the oven and roast eggplant, which is at its peak right now. I’ve had an odd hankering for roasted eggplant ever since I made Anna’s Mediterranean quinoa salad. Most people describe eggplant as bitter, but I’d say it’s borderline sour. Tangy. Pillowy. Hearty. So good, if paired with the right flavors.
I took some cues from Anna’s salad and combined roasted eggplant with feta, pine nuts and fresh herbs. I first tried it without tomatoes, wondering if eggplant could stand on its own, but sweet roasted tomatoes made it more of an irresistible—and I daresay, dazzling—veggie-packed pasta dish. I should have known. Eggplant and tomatoes are garden mates and nightshade cousins, and they belong together in this recipe.
DeLallo’s light and tender whole wheat orzo pasta forms the base of the dish. Just look at those cute little oblong pasta pieces! DeLallo makes the best whole wheat pasta and I love that they offer it in so many fun shapes, from orzo to rigatoni to orecchiette. You can find their products at Whole Foods and well-stocked grocery stores, as well as online. I’m flying out to Pittsburgh to hang out with the DeLallo team and a few of my favorite bloggers this week. I can’t wait! More on that later, but please make this dish before the tomatoes are gone!
- 1 medium purple eggplant (about 1 pound), sliced into 3/4-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 pound DeLallo Organic Whole Wheat Orzo
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, more to taste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with one rack in the middle of the oven and the other rack in the upper third of the oven. Line 1 large, rimmed baking sheet and 1 small, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
- On the large baking sheet, toss the cubed eggplant with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Arrange the eggplant in a single layer. Roast on the middle rack until the eggplant is tender and deeply golden on the edges, about 25 minutes, tossing halfway.
- Meanwhile, on the smaller baking sheet, toss the halved tomatoes with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Wait to place the pan of tomatoes on the top rack until you return the eggplant to the oven after tossing. Roast until the tomatoes are tender and a little wrinkled, about 12 minutes. (So in an ideal situation, the eggplant and tomatoes will be done roasting at the same time.)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the orzo, give it a stir and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Reserve about 1 cup cooking water, then drain the orzo and transfer it to a large serving bowl.
- To prepare the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle it over the warm orzo and toss to coat. Add the roasted eggplant, tomatoes, feta, basil, parsley and pine nuts. Toss to combine. If the pasta seems dry, add a couple of tablespoons of the reserved pasta cooking water and/or a little more olive oil. Season to taste with additional salt (mine needed 1/4 teaspoon more) and pepper. Serve immediately.
Make it gluten free: Substitute a small gluten-free pasta for the orzo and cook according to package directions.
This post was created in partnership with DeLallo Foods and I received compensation for my participation. Opinions are my own, always. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!