Orzo is rice-shaped pasta. If you have little children, this dish is always a hit. I mixed several vegetables such as Japanese eggplant, roasted pumpkin and green beans, and flavored the dish with cumin and coriander. The spices take the stage in this pasta dish and impart a wonderful Asian flair.
I wanted to incorporate some protein into the dish, so I also added garbanzo beans. They're an excellent source of protein for the vegetarians in my house. For the meat eaters in the house, I typically serve the orzo with roast chicken or a cordon bleu.
Servings: 6 servings
1 (16-ounce) package orzo pasta, cooked and drained
3 cups pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed
1-½ tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1-½ teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
1 onion, chopped
1-½ teaspoons coriander seeds, slightly toasted
1 teaspoon ground cumin, slightly toasted and freshly ground
½ teaspoon red chili powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup garbanzo beans, drained
2 Japanese eggplants, sliced diagonally (about 1-½")
1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 2"-pieces
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a large bowl, toss the diced pumpkin in honey, salt, pepper, a tablespoon of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of cumin powder and red chili powder.
Brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Place the pumpkin pieces without crowding them. Roast for 30 minutes, until slightly browned and softened.
Sautéing the rest of the vegetables:
Heat about 3 tablespoons of oil in a deep large pan. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant slices. Ensure that the eggplant pieces are coated in oil. Toss and cook until soft and tender. Season with salt. Add 1 teaspoon mint and 1 tablespoon cilantro. Transfer to a platter.
In the same pan, add the garlic. As the garlic becomes slightly golden, add the green beans and stir for about 3 minutes until the color changes and they become bright green and glistening. Add salt. Do not over-cook the beans, as they will finish cooking with the pasta. You still want the green beans to hold their shape. Transfer the vegetables to the same platter. Sprinkle with pepper. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine the remaining ground cumin, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
In the pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil and the onions. Cook until fragrant. Add turmeric and the coriander seeds. Stir well and add the yellow bell pepper and garbanzo beans. Toss well. Add the orzo pasta. Toss the pasta for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the roasted pumpkin, green beans, eggplant and the lemon juice. Toss well for another 2 minutes until the pasta is coated with the spices. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add a little water. Adjust seasoning. Add the rest of the mint and cilantro. Gently stir the pasta, cover and let stand until you're ready to serve.
Garnish with more cilantro.