Orzo With Eggplant and Red Pepper Sauce

14 10 2014

This tasty dish comes together in less than a half hour, perfect for weeknight dinners and meatless Mondays. Comfort food can be healthy, and it doesn’t have to take all day either!

Orzo With Eggplant and Red Pepper Sauce

The following serves 4 (compliments of Cuisine Light and This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 heaping cup of dry whole wheat orzo
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Lemon zest
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season liberally with salt and cook orzo to al dente, according to package directions. Reserve a little of the pasta water, then drain the orzo.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute a few minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add bell pepper and saute another few minutes. Season with salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Next add the eggplant and cook until eggplant begins to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add wine to eggplant and simmer until liquid is almost evaporated. Stir in the broth and tomato paste and mix well. Add chickpeas and  simmer until mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and season with salt to taste.

Next add the orzo and a little of the pasta water, mix well to combine and cook on low for another minute or so. Stir in a good dusting of lemon zest and some of the chopped parsley. Mix to combine and taste, adjusting seasoning if needed.

Dish out the orzo and garnish with more parsley and parmesan.

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Leek and Carrot Rice Pilaf

1 08 2014

Here’s a great rice pilaf recipe for a quick weeknight side dish. I like using whole wheat orzo and brown rice for a healthier starch. This is also versatile, you can easily swap out the leek and carrot for other veggies you have on hand.

Leek and Carrot Rice Pilaf

The following serves 4 (adapted from Rachael Ray):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped onion or shallot
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat orzo
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 leek, white and green parts, chopped
  • 4 small carrots, peeled and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 and 1/4 cups brown rice
  • 3 and 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 lemon zested, and some of the lemon juice
  • Parsley, chopped for garnish

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute a few minutes. Add orzo and toast, stirring occasionally, until deep brown and beginning to smell nutty. Add garlic, leeks and carrots and saute a few minutes until they begin to soften. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Next, add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and cook until the stock evaporates.

Next add the rice, the remaining 3 cups of stock and the lemon zest. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover. Cook 15 – 20 minutes covered and on low, until rice is tender and liquid is almost evaporated. Remove lid, stir and season with more salt if needed. Garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Serve alongside a protein of your choice. Pictured here is grilled quartered chicken.