Happy Tuesday! Hope you had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend! I spent the weekend hanging out with my family, and my sister and I even fit in a 2.5 mile run in preparation for her JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge. Monday morning, I got up bright and early, spent the morning doing some spring cleaning (it happened kind of late this year) and prepped food for a picnic in Central Park with my friends. My contributions were roasted chicken avocado sandwiches and roast beef sandwiches with tomato onion jam. The tomato onion jam is a super delicious and versatile condiment– I’ll share the recipe with you later this week!
Anyway, despite the fact that there were a ton of people in Central Park, we found ourselves a shady spot in Sheep Meadow, and proceeded to sipping on wine and snacking on the sandwiches and the cupcakes my friend Jen got from Buttercup Cake Shop. We had grand plans to do some indoor rock climbing afterwards (we even brought the climbing gear), but let’s just say that we were overly ambitious. With such beautiful summery weather, it was almost impossible to leave the outdoors!
Today’s dish is perfect for the summer months. Orzo with Roasted Vegetables and Feta is a simple, colorful vegetarian dish that is bursting with fresh and zesty flavors. Orzo pasta is tossed with roasted vegetables, lemony dressing, salty crumbled feta cheese, and fresh basil. I love how the lemon dressing adds a pop of bright, zesty flavors to each bite.
When I was in graduate school, I used to make a large batch of roasted vegetables every week so that even if I was busy, I would have some cooked vegetables ready for weekday lunches and dinners. I would dice up some eggplants, peppers, mushrooms, or whatever is in season, toss with dry herb blends like Italian seasoning or herbs de Provence, roast them up in the oven, and use the roasted vegetables throughout the week in salads, sandwiches, and pastas. It’s a great way to make sure you get in your recommended daily servings of vegetables.
I got this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, but I omitted the red onion and scallions. The pasta can be served cold or at room temperature, which makes it a great make-ahead dish (just mix in the dressing, feta, and basil right before you are ready to serve). This is a winning dish for the vegetarians among your friends and family, and makes for a refreshing side dish for the carnivores as well.
- 1 small eggplant, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 small green or yellow zucchini, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ lb orzo
- For the dressing:
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- To assemble:
- ¾ lb feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini, and garlic with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, or until browned, turning once with a spatula.
- Meanwhile, cook orzo in salted boiling water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Rinse with cold water and drain.
- For the dressing, whisk together lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together roasted vegetables, orzo, dressing, feta cheese and basil. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve cold or at room temperature.