Back in the day, I was mostly vegetarian. From somewhere around 1996 until about three years ago, I ate very little meat. Once in a while I’d have chicken or fish and the odd McDonald’s cheeseburger. (Hey, I was a broke college student – sometimes a 49¢ cheeseburger was all I could afford!) I’ve since given up my meat-free ways, though we still don’t eat a lot of the stuff. And when we do, we always try to get locally raised, grass-fed bison or local free-range chickens. (I still love bacon. What can I say!)
This vegetarian recipe sat waiting, patiently, in my recipe book for almost six years. Six years. Yes, folks, I’ve had it sitting around for six years and I didn’t try it until a few weeks ago. It’s from back when I used to subscribe to Vegetarian Times. I have the original little clipping and everything, carefully cut out of the magazine and tucked into the folder in my little recipe book. Recently, I was combing through it trying to find dinners that would be healthy, relatively easy and cheap. This one fit the bill on all three accounts.
Baked Orzo with Zucchini
from Vegetarian Times, 2002
- 2 cups dried tri-colored or plain orzo
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 t. minced garlic
- 1 large leek, thinly sliced (Yet another use for my lovely mandoline!)
- 2 zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 cup chunky marinara sauce
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil baking dish. Heat water in covered saucepan. When at a rapid boil, cook orzo until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet over medium heat and sauté garlic, leeks and zucchini slices for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Drain orzo and place in baking dish. Stir in marinara sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Top with half the cheese. Arrange zucchini and leek slices on top of orzo and top with remaining mozzarella. Bake for 15 minutes, or until mozzarella melts. During last 5 minutes, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.