The small, rice-shaped pasta known as orzo is very versatile. Cubed eggplant cooks quickly and with the accompanying sauce and cheese, contributes to the heartiness of this entrée. Offer a bean soup
or an Italian-style minestrone to start, and serve Italian
ice for dessert.
- 2 cups uncooked orzo
- 1 eggplant (about 1 lb.), unpeeled
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 cups primavera-style spaghetti sauce
- 1 Tbs. garlic
- 1 large tomato, cubed
- Red pepper flakes to taste, optional
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 3 cups shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
- 3 Tbs. Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
- Preheat oven to 450F. Spray 2- to 3-quart ovenproof baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Bring pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook orzo according to package directions. When just tender, drain, rinse and drain again. Set aside.
- Cube eggplant. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add eggplant, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup sauce, garlic, tomato, red pepper flakes, if using, and salt and pepper. Continue cooking 4 to 5 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, scoop half orzo into baking dish. Layer eggplant on orzo. Sprinkle eggplant with 2 cups cheese. Layer remaining orzo on cheese. Spread remaining cheese and 1 cup sauce on orzo.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cheese melts and bubbles. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with Parmesan, if using. Serve hot.
Except for the sauce and tomato, all of the ingredients in this casserole add weight and richness to the overall texture of the dish. Pairing those foods with wine is relatively easy, but the tanginess of the sauce would kill a soft wine. Choose a wine with a good acidic backbone, such as Pontignanello Chianti Classico.