Baked ozro with aubergine and courgette (+sage chips!)

Yes!

At 41 you can still be surprised by yet another variety of pasta.

Don’t be fooled, orzo is not rice.

I repeat, orzo is not rice.

I had to say this twice to my husband who got his glasses to really confirm if Sainsbury’s had not made a packaging mistake. Perhaps “Dried Durum Wheat Semolina Pasta” means rice in Italiano? No, it means PASTA damn it.

And orzo is a tiny rice-shaped pasta.

Yes, it is cute pasta.

And yes, it is so pleasing to run one’s fingers through it. Like with couscous. It has a soothing effect, helpful if you are going to cook in two stages as follows:

  • cook the orzo in boiling water and ingredients
  • make a white sauce (a.k.a. Béchamel) and finish cooking the orzo in the oven.

Ingredients:

1 pack of orzo (250g)

1 aubergine

1 courgette

1 red onion (or regular onion if you don’t have it)

1 garlic clove

1 can of chopped tomatoes

dill

1 bay leaf

salt & pepper to taste

breadcrumbs (just toast some old bread)

sage leaves

For the White Sauce:

1 ssp of vegan butter

4 ssp of plain flower

2 cups of oat milk

nutmeg

(Or you can be it pre-cooked)

Start by chopping in small bits the aubergine, the courgette, the onion and the garlic.

 

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Fry them all in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the dill and the bay leaf cut in 2. Don’t forget the salt and the pepper to taste.

 

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Once the vegetables start to cook, add the chooped tomatoes and let it cook for 10 mns stirring once in a while so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Add just a pinch of salt.

Now add the orzo and cover everything with water – and a tad more. Let it cook in medium heat for 12 mins. At minute 10, try the pasta. If it’s al dente, turn the heat off.

 

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This is the tricky bit. I find the term White Sauce slightly off-putting (I KNOW, I KNOW but it is a well known fact that kitchen terms are very saucy) so let’s call it Béchamel if you don’t mind.

Set aside the orzo and we shall start the Béchamel.

Read the instructions before you start.

(If you don’t trust written instructions for Béchamel because you have had a go, you might just go in youtube. Otherwise, just bear with me. EDIT: I HAVE BEEN to the land of youtube and it’s not good. If you don’ know how to make your Béchamel, you will not learn there. It’s a mess. It’s confusing (onions in Béchamel, really?! Arghhh). Surprisingly, I am completely, shamelessly stuck up when it comes to the sauciness of sauces. It had to happen somewhere.

Melt in medium heat a good spoonful of vegan butter (the one you like). Grate some nutmeg onto it. Once it is melted, keep the heat on and add, spoon by spoon, the flour. Each time, try to whisk the flour in the melted butter. You’ll end up with a little ball of dough. As soon as that’s the case, slowly add the milk and mix. You’ll end up with a creamy sauce.

 

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Now take an oven casserole and grease it with vegan butter. Then add a layer of the orzo cooked pasta and a layer of Béchamel, then another layer of orzo and another layer of Béchamel. On this one (the final one) spinkle breadcrumbs. The top of your baked orzo will be crispy and crunchy.  Add some sage leaves (that you previously washed, of course). They’ll turn into delicious and sophisticated chips. If you don’t like veggie chips, you won’t like it though. But it will make your kitchen smell delicious.

Of course, knowing me, I have not timed this. But everything is cooked so the goal here is to have a crispy and golden top. You’ll know. Trust me.

 

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So goddam cute.

 

Enjoy!

 

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