baked-orzo-with-eggplant-and-mozzarella Recipes

baked orzo with eggplant and mozzarella

Okay, I know that despite everyone being back to school, people actually showing up to the office again, like, to work, again and Labor Day being but a blip in the rearview mirror that summer isn’t really over yet — it’s hot, the days are still relatively long and, no, I will not put my sandals away. But I can’t help it. As soon as the first day of September, one of my favorite months, arrives, my brain becomes fiercely rooted in all things fall. I grab cardigans on the way out the door. I crave soup. I walk right past the peaches at the market so I can get to the new apples instead. And I turn on the oven again to make deep, bubbly, and more filling meals.

sliced, then diced eggplant
salting and draining the eggplant

I have mixed feelings about traditional baked pasta dishes. I mean, if you show up to my place with a foil casserole dish of your grandma’s baked ziti, I will probably leap in your arms with relief because I don’t, in fact, always feel like making dinner. We will devour it; everyone will go to bed happy and my son will probably wonder why his mama can’t just cook like that. But I would probably never mix a pound of cheese or tub of ricotta into a casserole dish — it’s all too much, too heavy. And so, when I spied a baked orzo dish, with eggplant and just a modicum of mozzarella from Yotam Ottolenghi (sadly, not from his new cookbook out next month, because I am totally out of order), I knew it was everything I’d ever hoped and dreamed for in baked pasta — balance (there’s are pillows of eggplant throughout), comfort (there are decadent cheese pulls stretching from every forkful, a delightful term I learned from this article) and ease (like the easiest macaroni-and-cheese I know how to make, you don’t even need to pre-boil the pasta).

fresh oregano, I like you

browning the eggplant
blotting the eggplant
orzo, eggplant, tomatoes, oregano

And then I had to wait four months to make it because it wasn’t eggplant season yet. I won’t lie, it was hard. In the meantime, I made other riffs on it, one with halved cherry tomatoes (too wet) and another with asparagus (eh). This week, it was finally mine and it is absolutely worth the wait. Because this is an Otttolenghi dish, and Ottolenghi didn’t get famous for making things the ordinary way, there are tinier elements in there that I would have never considered adding, like fresh oregano, which works here so well. There’s a bit of lemon zest, which was like a revelation against the tomatoes and oregano. And there’s a little mirepoix, a base of carrots, celery and onion that gives the whole dish a depth that makes you take notice. Together, it feels very September, very late summer while somehow softening the landing of getting back to the grind again. I hope you like it too.

baked eggplant, orzo, mozzarella
baked orzo with eggplant

Next week: Eee! I’m going to share a second recipe preview from the cookbook — what I consider the most September-y recipe in it, so I can’t let you miss it just because the book won’t be out until late October. And, I’m going to announce the dates and locations we’ve got lined up so far on The Smitten Out of the Kitchen Book Tour. I can’t wait, and I hope you’re excited too.

One year ago: Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint
Two years ago: Grape Foccacia with Rosemary
Three years ago: Corn Bread Salad
Four years ago: Raspberry Breakfast Bars
Five years ago: Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes and Hoisin Barbecue Sauce
[New!]Six years ago: Silky Cauliflower Soup

Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi

I made a couple changes to this recipe due to personal preferences. The original called for a lot of carrots and celery (4 carrots, 3 celery stalks) but I wanted them to just be a background flavor, not main ingredient. I also chopped them more finely. I used a lot less lemon zest and oregano than was suggested because I was nervous but ended up wishing for more of each so I’ve listed the range from my amount to the suggested one below. Finally, the tomatoes were intended to be sliced and then arranged across the top of the dish as it baked. If you’d like to do it this way, sprinkle them with a teaspoon of dried oregano, salt and pepper before you bake it. I chopped them for two reasons: I wanted the tomatoes inside the dish and I also like the crunchy lid of a baked pasta dish. A layer of tomatoes would protect you from that if you’re not into it. (You probably don’t like pudding skin either, do you? It’s okay. We can still be friends.)

You could easily use whole wheat orzo here, or I suspect, another grain. However, you’ll have to do a bit of fiddling with the broth level to adjust for each one. Grains that take longer than pasta to cook (just about all of them) would probably benefit from par-cooking before they go in.

A few other substitions: I didn’t have any vegetable broth and used water. I felt it wasn’t lacking at all for flavor. If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you can use canned ones (though fresh will hold up better on top). If you don’t have fresh oregano, use half the amount of dried oregano. If you don’t like or don’t have either, thyme, fresh or dried, would work well here but it’s much stronger in flavor and only half as much should be needed.

Serves 4

1 large (mine was just over 1 1/4 pounds/570 grams) eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 celery stalk, in a 1/4-inch dice
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces (225 grams) orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, rinsed
1 teaspoon (6 grams) tomato paste
1 1/2 cups (355 ml) vegetable stock
1 to 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or more to taste, up to the zest of a whole lemon
4 ounces (115 grams) mozzarella, firmer is better here, cut into 1/3-inch dice
1 1/2 ounces (a generous 1/2 cup or 45 grams) parmesan, grated
3 medium tomatoes, diced

Sprinkle your eggplant generously with salt and let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes. I used this time to get the rest of my ingredients ready. After 30 minutes, rinse it well and pat it dry on towels.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil and once the oil is shimmering, add the eggplant. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring pieces occasionally. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer them to paper towels to drain. Add celery and carrots to remaining oil and cook for 3 minutes before adding onion and garlic. Cook together for 5 more minutes on medium heat. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste and cook for two minutes more. Off the heat, add the oregano, mozzarella, parmesan, tomatoes, fried eggplant, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon table salt, many grinds of black pepper and the stock and mix well.

Transfer mixture to an 8×11-inch (about 2 quarts) ovenproof baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes, then bake 20 minutes without the foil. (You can increase the ration of foil-on to foil-off time if you don’t like a crunchy pasta lid.) Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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424 comments on baked orzo with eggplant and mozzarella

  1. yuuuummmm. and i love fall too – even though it’s still hot as blazes down here in dc (yep, still swampy).

    eeeeeeee please tell me you’ll be making a stop down here on the book tour?!

  2. I’ve never met an Ottolenghi recipe I didn’t love. I think I’ll put this on the menu for Sunday night. We might even be in the double digits by then. We’ll see.

  3. Lisa

    I love that I have everything for this in my fridge right now! Just a note.. I might be missing it in the directions, but I assume the mozzarella is folded in at the end with everything else?

    1. deb

      Sasa — I wish! Though, it would likely fall more under the jurisdiction of Square Peg, who is publishing the book in Australia and the UK in February. Maybe if people ask really nicely, you can talk them into it. :)

  4. Becca

    OK, I seriously considered the Ottolenghi cookbook to be quality bedside reading (the only issue would be it would usually just leave me hungry) and will definitely add this to my “to be cooked” queue. The man is a genius with eggplant!

    Congratulations on the upcoming book release – can’t wait for both the preview and my copy to arrive in the mail!

    Becca

  5. Deb, I am the same way when September hits. I go right for the fall foods like soups and such, even though September and October are our hottest month in California. I recently discovered an amazing heirloom tomato soup from one of my favorite restaurants in Calistoga, and I’ve been making batch after batch in the heat so I can freeze the soup for winter. Heirloom tomatoes are only in season a short time, so I’m taking advantage of them while I can.

    I love this casserole and I’m excited to make it because I honestly haven’t cooked with eggplant yet, can you believe it? One of my favorite fall dishes of yours is the warm chickpea salad. I eat that every fall and I feel so good after I do. Your recipes always turn out amazing! Keep it up!
    xoxo,
    Jackie

  6. Heather B

    Hey I was reading over the directions and it doesn’t say when to add the Mozzarella? just wondering when to add that ingredient. Thanks for the amazing recipe!

  7. Gail

    I *just* last night made some weird concoction with eggplant and tomatoes (over couscous) last night, and wish I’d had this great recipe to guide me! I just sauteed the eggplant and tomatoes, threw in some basil and white beans, and ate it over couscous, but because I am a hack, and not a recipe-writer, the final product was pretty meh. Thanks for this!

  8. Anna

    Thanks for the post! Recipe sounds delish! I crave baked cheesy pasta dishes even in the middle of summer! Only problem is I dont like eggplant…I wonder if Zucchini would work??

  9. Jamie

    I made something similar with zucchini instead of eggplant a few weeks ago and it was a fantastic way to get rid of ALL. THAT. ZUCCHINI. Looking forward to trying this one.

  10. Ashley G

    I love you. The last of my summer garden eggplant, the heirloom tomatoes given graciously by a friend with a better garden and the basil I’m encouraging to not give up its growing quite yet now all have a future. Oh, and yay for cheesy goodness. It’s recipes like this that make my lactose-intolerant self pop a Lactaid.

    1. deb

      Lindsay — The salting step is supposed to remove eggplant’s bitterness. I don’t often use it in my recipes but took Ottolenghi’s lead here and liked the results. You might try incorporating it in future eggplant recipes too.

  11. Wonderful dish! I had the same autumn qualms this week – cardigan in the morning, then swimming in the afternoon, gentle sting driving away from the mountain lodge was eased by the fruit stands in the valley below!

  12. Whoever said baked pasta dishes need to have a pound of mozzarella or a tub of ricotta folded in? They are a fabulous way to create something quickly, to incorporate more veggies into our diets, and they are infinitely versatile, as I’m writing about in an upcoming post. Glad to see you’ve come around!

  13. Sorry silly Canadian question here – how much is 8oz of orzo – like a cup? Can’t wait to make this – we actually have all the ingredients – I might try tonight!

  14. I bought fingerling eggplants from the farmer’s market on Tuesday which I made into little eggplant parm (loose definition here) ciabatta pizzas. Light on the cheese, fresh sliced tomatoes, and tiny eggplant slices dipped in egg and spiced cornmeal and lightly fried before baking.

    It was delicious and makes me wish I had more of them for this dish!

  15. Sequoia N.

    This made me just laugh out loud because I just had a conversation with a friend last night about how she has officially declared it “fall” and she will no longer be wearing shorts, only pants, sweats, long sleeve shirts, and hoodies :-) She made me dinner last night so I think this might be the perfect payback to go with her fall theme at the moment!

  16. Val

    I am a freak because I love eggplant, any way any shape. This dish looks fantastic and I am making it tonight for tomorrow’s dinner. I can picture some grilled shrimp on the side with some hot paprika sprinkled as well but it could go with anything grilled.

  17. I know what you mean! I desperately want it to be fall (32 weeks pregnant here in NC), but it’s actually become a MORE humid over the last week :( So much for pinning all of those cute autumn outfits.

  18. Isabel

    Hey Deb! You’re kind of my hero, both in blogging and in food. I’d like to know: will you be making any Canadian stops on your book tour? In Vancouver, perhaps? You’ve got TONS of fans here!

  19. Heidi C

    I recently fell in love with Ottolenghi for an eggplant recipe where you cook eggplant and tomato together and serve over a fresh corn polenta (which I didn’t know you could do, make polenta from fresh corn!). It was divine, and now I must have his cookbook. Thanks for showing me another recipe of his!

  20. Caroline

    Oh, this is great. I made an orzo salad for a BBQ recently and wanted to do something with the remaining box of orzo that wasn’t a salad. Will be trying it soon!

  21. WifeToAnAmazingCook

    Ah! A new dish to try with the beautiful eggplant from this week’s farm share. It looks and sounds amazing. Can’t wait to try it ASAP. And because I’m weird and spot spelling errors like some sort of freak (in others’ writing, but sadly, not often in my own…), eggplant is misspelled in the list of ingredients. :)

  22. Anne

    Awesome! I’m so making this tomorrow: got lots of eggplant in my veggie delivery basket today, so I picked up some parmesan + mozza at the grocery today :) As so often before, your timing is impeccable!

  23. Ben

    Looks like an awesome recipe! I may be being a little daft, but I’m confused about the orzo. Is it cooked or do you just stir it in dry and uncooked?

  24. Adrien

    Thank you for adapting a Yotam dish. I love his recipes and often crazy but always amazing flavour combinations but they often have zillions of steps that take hous to prepare. Looking forward to trying this.

  25. Rachel

    Deb, this is exactly what I needed. I have two CSA eggplants in my fridge that were dying for some inspiration. Also, I’m a week past my due date with my #2 and surviving the wait by going on a cooking frenzy. Cannot wait to make this tomorrow!

  26. I absolutely love Ottolenghi. He’s so talented, so down to earth and his dishes are amazing. WHEN (notice that is not an IF ;)) you come to London on your tour you must go to one of his Ottolenghi locations and to Nopi as well. You’ll absolutely love it. :) Can’t wait to try this one!

    On a book note – and I am posting this here and not e-mailing you so that other people from the UK can chime in if they received the same e-mail – this past Friday I received an e-mail from amazon.co.uk saying that your book is no longer available (!!!!!!) and that they have cancelled my order! Have you heard about this? On amazon.co.uk it just says ‘currently unavailable’ under the book title now. I’m trying to stay calm and was hoping it was just a mistake but it’s nearly been a week so I decided to ask you. Any information would be greatly appreciated!! Thank you.

  27. KJ

    I could not help but laugh when you said “it’s all too much, too heavy.” Sometime last winter I made a big pan of classic lasagna. I have not made lasagna in at least 20 years. I made it from scratch. I think I had to pull out a recipe for the ricotta/parm/egg mixture, otherwise no recipe. It is delicious. I still have 6 individual pieces in the freezer. It is almost cool enough to finish the lasagna.

    You are right, it is too much, but once every 20 years seems about just right.

    By the way, I can’t wait for your book.

  28. I made this dish this evening (I just happened to have pretty much everything on hand, so I figured, what the heck?!?) and it was awesome!!!! Quick, easy and oh, so delish!!

  29. I completely agree about so many pasta bakes having too much cheese. I love the idea of the orzo instead of ziti, this looks delicious and a perfect use for perfectly in season eggplant!

  30. Amy

    I can’t wait to make this, but the temperature in florida has to go down into the 70s before I even consider it. We’re still solidly in the upper 90s. gazpacho, anyone?

  31. Kelly

    I will not hold my breath for this, but Lawrence, KS would make a lovely book-stop tour! Funky college town right smack in the middle of the Midwest!! The farmers’ markets are amazing! Fingers crossed!

  32. Jill

    Does anyone know if this will freeze well? I’m looking for something to bring a friend who just had her first baby, and I know this would be a hit, but was wondering how well it would keep?

  33. xginia

    Ah! I figured out now that “orzo” is a kind of pasta. In Italian it means barley, which is also used as a grain for summer salads and winter soups. I might give this a try with the real one

  34. Leanne

    Oooh, I can’t wait to try this, and I also can’t wait for more info on your book tour!! Please please please come to Charlottesville, VA (or at least to Richmond)! We Southerners just love you and I will bring my three month-old son to the event. He loves your food too, and has promised to be all cuddles and smiles.

  35. This looks delicious and not too difficult to make. When I fry eggplant in oil, the eggplant usually absorbs too much oil and I never seem to get away with just 1/4 of a cup of oil. Although the more oil the eggplant absorbs, the more delicious it is.

  36. Jessie

    If, say, the thought and taste and texture and pretty much everything else about eggplant makes you gag, but you still wanted to make this dish, what would you substitute in instead? As a new grad student I am very into dishes that I can make one night and then have lots of leftovers for quick meals the rest of the week, and baked dishes like this are perfect– just can’t stand eggplant!

  37. This looks crazy good. Not two days ago I told a friend about your zucchini rice gratin after she suggested making an eggplant lasagna. It’s like you made both in one! :)

  38. Adrien

    Deb and Jenna – I have looked at ordering the book from bookdepository.com as I live in New Zealand and they have free worldwide shipping, and they have it available to pre order. Maybe try there instead of amazon.

  39. Nina

    Deb! Oh, Deb Deb Deb. Thank you for posting an Ottolenghi recipe! I just went on his website and, if the pictures are accurate, there will be a recipe for stewed lamb over hummus/tahini! This is exactly what I was emailing you about! Yay! Now I’ll have your cookbook AND his cookbook to obsess about!

  40. Yummmmmm! This is for sure getting made! I’ve seen eggplants popping up at the farmer’s market, and while I’m not ready yet to transition into autumny things like winter squash, I am totally ready for a baked pasta (I live in Sweden, it’s definitely not hot anymore). Thanks for another incredible recipe!

  41. Mieke

    Hello, This makes lovely reading again. Such a shame for european readers it’s always in cups-inches-fahrenheit etc. Will your book also contain these measurements only? Best regards!!!

  42. Deb, I found the salting also helps eggplant absorb less oil while frying – otherwise they act as thirsty little sponges and you end up with no oil in the pan and an overly greasy result.

    As for subbing zucchini, I would not skip the sauteeing, they need to get rid of some water as well – and, um, their flavor would surely benefit from some browning IMHO :)

    I’m no big fan of orzo either, I love the couscous suggestion but might even try using some fregula instead – have you ever heard of it? it’s a pasta shape from Sardinia that looks like an augmented couscous but it’s actually pasta; though I suppose I’d need to parboil it as it takes some 10 minutes to cook in the pot.

    as usual… thanks for the inspiration :)

  43. Patricia

    Now that the outside temp is getting a bit more under control, down here in the very sunny South, I may actually try baking something. Your Orzo and Eggplant Casserole might be a nice place to start. Fresh marjoram or mint could be a good substitute for the oregano and I think some pitted greek olives would make a nice addition too. A glass of wine and some crusty bread to sop up that last little bit of goodness….ahhh, I’m in Heaven.

  44. Danielle

    This looks delicious and hits many of my “favorite things to put in my mouth” notes. I’ll be trying it this weekend, thanks!

  45. Such a great idea for dinner! I like pasta in any form or shape so I may try this recipe next week, because I have a weekend full of celebrations ahead of me, and I think that I will need this kind of simple meals the following days.

  46. Cy

    OMG, I love this recipe! Cant wait to try it! How can I get a printer friendly version?
    Thank you so much for these wonderful recipres! <3
    xoxo

  47. Looks yummy! Unfortunately I cooked orzo the other day and wasn’t a big fan of it… I don’t know what I was expecting… but it was just like some kind of “Mexican pasta” (semillitas de melon is the name in Spanish) which I love but more like in a “soup” kind of thing… not so much drier… this looks delicious though… could it make me try Orzo again? we’ll see :)

  48. Joanna

    This sounds amazing!! I am having vegetarian friends over for dinner in a few weeks and I think I will make this. One question — do you think I could do all the prep work and get everything into the baking pan the night before, refrigerate it, and than bake it before my guests come? We are having them over on a Friday night and I’d like to make something that I can prepare in advance.

    Thanks so much!

  49. KristinP

    I’m trying not to eat meat and this sounds like a great veggie option. However, I’m worried about getting enough protein in my diet. Any recommendations for adding tofu to this to amp up the protein content? This looks so good!

    1. deb

      Hi Risa — You can, but the dish also calls for sauteeing it for a couple minutes before you add the other ingredients in.

      To make this ahead of time — I bet you could do everything but bake it the day before, even have it ready in its dish in the fridge the night before. You’d only have to pop it in the oven, probably an extra 5 minutes or so to get the chill off of it.

      Cy — Here is the print template. The link (“print”) is located at the bottom of each post before the comments begin.

      Nicki/Kathy — Either will work but Ottolenghi had suggested a firmer one (which will hold up better in baking/not disappear into the dish) which I think gives you permission to use the budget stuff. ;)

      Mieke — Actually, a good half of the recipes on this site in the last year or two have had weights included. I’m working on getting the whole archives done, but it’s a big project. In the meanwhile, if there’s a recipe that I haven’t added weights to yet (like this one), just leave me a request in the comments and I’ll do it ASAP. (It can be easier for me to do it as requested.) I assumed you wanted this done and went ahead. The book will have weights as well as cups-and-spoons measurements. Hooray!

  50. This recipe intrigued me. I am not a huge eggplant fan, but I love orzo and tomatoes. The fried eggplant almost caramelizes and brought me to pairing this dish with a Viognier. The body and viscosity of Viognier together with the hints of coconut I thought would pair well.

  51. Trisha

    Hmm, if you didn’t like the crunchy lid perhaps the baking could be done in the slow cooker. I’ve been swapping out Trader Joe’s harvest belnd for orzo in most reciies but maybe I’ll try this with regular orzo first.

  52. Kate

    I saw this yesterday and immediately had to try it so I made it up last night and loved it. I think the lemon really makes it for me. I felt the same way about your lemon risotto – I think it must be the lemon/parmesan combination. And it was even better as leftovers. Thanks!

  53. Patricia

    I never realized so many people could dislike eggplant until I read the comments, but then I’ve never met a vegetable I didn’t like. To add a bit more protein to the dish, Kristin P could add approx. 1 cup of firm tofu cubes to the saute pan at the same time as the eggplant. It would give the tofu an oportunity to dry out and brown up a bit and develope a little flavor from the caramelization. Increasing the tomato paste from 1 teaspoon up to as much as 1 Tablespoon could add a bit more as well, but would not over power the other ingredients. Another thought might be to add a can of chick peas instead of the tofu.

    I’m definitely going to give this a try for dinner tonight.

  54. Hangzhou Honey

    I happened to have all the ingredients for this and made it last night. Delicious and even great the next day for lunch :)

    I was wondering if there was a calorie count on it…

  55. Annie

    Laughing about the pudding skin. I always like it, yet most people will scale mountains to avoid it. Love the caramelized baked top of most anything, too. My husband and I always fight over the edges.

  56. Hey Deb, Others may have already asked this, but I’m at work & no time to scroll thru the comments section. Can you please tell me what kind of baking pan you used in this recipe? Is it cast iron? Porcelain? I think I have to have one!!! Love you! Love your blog!! Thanks!

    1. deb

      Kathleen — It was part of my dish set (called Calvin Klein Cargo) that’s been discontinued, but look! There’s one left here in blue on clearance, and a couple here (the one I have is in “raisin”) totally not on clearance. I am not sure I was aware of how pricy it was when we registered for our wedding!

  57. Mieke

    DEB, you’re great thank you for the added weights and all. Hopefully the Amazon-problem will be dissolved soon! Have a good weekend!

  58. Kevin

    Looks great. If you frequently run out of vegetable broth, try getting a jar of “better than bouillon,” vegetarian. It makes a delicious broth and is great if you only need a cup or two. I’m going to try this with a soy mozzarella as we are recently trying to eat without dairy!

  59. Julie

    I have all of the ingredients chopped and the eggplant sitting in the colander as I type. I am SO excited to eat this tonight. I showed it to my fiance and he didn’t even balk at eating vegetarian. The mozzarella helps. A lot.

  60. jeanie

    I totally forgot to add the veggie broth – somehow I just skipped over that part – and it still turned out delicious! I am going to try it again with the broth to see how different it is, I imagine it’ll be softer and maybe more rice-like but I had it again for leftovers this morning and it was still SO good!

  61. Kasey

    Hi Deb, I simply had to make this recipe as soon as I saw it. :) It came out delicious but some of the orzo on top was a little undercooked? Any suggestions regarding how I could fix this? I’m really not the best cook so I probably went awry somewhere with my measurements. Thank you! :)

  62. Tim

    I made this with canned stock and I wish I hadn’t. I don’t often notice the stock’s scalded-vegetable flavor but, alas, it shines right through here.

    On the upside! I had some Israeli couscous in the cupboard I’ve been meaning to use up. I subbed in the 5.5 wt oz of that I had plus quinoa to bring the total to 8 wt oz, and everything cooked up just right. I used a 13×9″ glass pan and went for a conservative 30/10 ratio of foil/non, and things didn’t end up super crispy.

    A lemon’s worth of zest is definitely the right call. And suddenly you have the fixings for a Tom Collins…

  63. Sarah

    Cleveland, OH!!! Please come visit our food friendly city! I’ll take you to the West Side Market and introduce you to restaurants whose prices will make your NYC self weep with joy.

  64. Bindi in Oz

    I also pre-ordered your book some time ago through Amazon.co.uk and received an email saying my order was cancelled. Eagerly waiting to hear what advice you have as its already hard enough having to wait til February next year for the UK edition to be released! Sigh. That’ll teach me for being born in a metric country…

    Oh, and can’t wait to make this as its late Winter/early Spring in Australia so it’s a perfect dish for now. Yum!

  65. Hillary

    Hi! I love orzo but am curious – why does recipe call for rinsing it before using? I have never done that with pasta, only some types of rice. Thanks!

  66. Alexis

    I do not know how you always seem to know exactly what I need to cook! I came to your site to look up a different recipe, but my fridge is filled with tomatoes and eggplants. So now I will be making this lovely thing. Time and time again you seem to know my tastes before I do. Thank you for being by cooking soul mate!

  67. Debby

    Just made this recipe for dinner tonight. It was unbelievably good! I used buffalo mozzarella and romano cheese (instead of parmesan), because I’m allergic to dairy (cow’s milk), but am OK with buffalo, sheep, and goat milk. I loved the little pillows of eggplant and mozzarella. I bet the leftovers will be even better tomorrow. BTW: The lemon zest is a must!! Thanks so much for this fabulous recipe. I’ll be making it again.

  68. Kim

    This was delicious!! I was at a training from 10-7 today and to my great surprise my husband had this and your chocolate chip cookies made for me when I got home. He’s a big fan of your blog and recipes but doesn’t usually cook so this was a real treat. Thanks for inspiring him! I’ll definitely add this one to my recipe collection.

    1. deb

      Nina — It should probably be fine without them.

      April — I don’t find it tough but if you’re nervous or dislike eggplant skin, you can peel it.

      “Uncooked” orzo on top — This is the crunchy lid I had mentioned. I like it in a baked pasta dish but know not everyone does. In that case, you should definitely use the tomatoes-layered-on-top approach in Ottolenghi’s original recipe, detailed in the headnotes here. They’ll protect the orzo from getting dry. You could also keep the foil on for a higher proportion of the baking time.

      R — 4 ounces was a weight but I think you meant in grams? Now added…

  69. Jessica

    Book tour info AND a second preview! I am so excited!
    I already told my guy that we are going to the book tour no matter when, where, and how many hours we have to drive!

  70. Becki

    Deb, we are eating this now and it is so good! I love the eggplant and the fresh oregano and just enough cheese. So glad I made a double batch (I didn’t want to leave half a box of orzo to get lost in the pantry). Thanks!

  71. R. Goodsign

    Small tip from an eggplant-crazy-middle-easterner-who-despises-frying.

    If you do not want to sautee eggplant, you can do this:
    Turn oven to medium-high heat. Toss the eggplant cubes in olive oil (after it sat in colander. If you pat dry the cubes they absorbe less fat), you can use much less than 1/4 of a cup. spread on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper. pop in the oven. bake for 5-8 min. until golden-brownish.

  72. Lisa M.

    It wasn’t really your recipe at all, but you inspired me. I had tons of tomatoes and zucchini, and when I saw this I thought I bet I could bake them with some orzo and the orzo would cook in the juice. It worked! About 6 cups tomatoes, 2 cups zucchini, 8 oz orzo, garlic, fresh basil, dried oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes and five spice powder. About an hour at 350 (it probably didn’t need that long, but it held until then) and some grated parmesano reggiano on top. Very yummy.

  73. This looks delicious! I have had a box of orzo in my cabinet for quite sometime and not sure what I was going to make with it. I can’t wait to try this recipe and I like all of your slight changes.

  74. Robby

    I made this last night with tomatoes from our garden and carrots and eggplant from our CSA box. It felt so good to use up a bunch of stuff that we had in the house. AND, it was DELICIOUS! The lemon really made the dish (I used the zest of an entire lemon)…

  75. I found the orzo on top came out very uncooked :( I think this may be why Ottolenghi recommends layering the tomatoes on the top: The moisture from those would like have prevented any raw orzo bits as it baked. Loved the recipe though–I think the next time I make it I will likely layer on the tomatoes, cover it with foil and then pull it out in the last 20 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle over the cheese and see if I can obtain that all important crispy crusty lid :)

  76. Joan

    Do you think it would be okay to substitute 8 ounces of quinoa for the orzo? If so, should I just dump it in without cooking it first? I couldn’t find orzo at the produce shop and thought that I was picking up couscous but bought a container of quinoa instead. Sigh….
    By the way, I can’t wait for your book…first book that I’ve ever preordered from Amazon ( and I read a LOT, so that’s really saying something)!

  77. Lynn

    Deb, Made this today with garden fresh tomatoes, Greek oregano, and eggplant. Discovered while making it that I didn’t have any mozzarella, but I did have a small bit of leftover ‘Mediterranean Baked Feta’ from 2 posts ago. Chopped that up and added it in the place of mozzarella. It was divine…same flavor profile so it worked perfectly. Thanks for a great meal!…twice!

  78. NYCUWS

    Thanks for another great recipe Deb! I made this for dinner last night and just had some leftovers a few minutes ago! So good! You are such an inspiration. Can’t wait for your book!

  79. Salena

    This was delicious!. Perfect way to use local produce. Have to remember this recipe when those pesty vegetarians come over. I did it all in a cast-iron pan and it made a wonderful rustic presentation on the table and saved cleaning another dish.

  80. Kara

    Fantastic! I used Japanese eggplants because that’s what I had on hand, and dried oregano because ditto. It was delicious. Looking forward to leftovers this week.

  81. Patty

    I made this tonight- fantastic! I had Japanese eggplants, chicken stock, & cherry tomatoes on hand so that’s what I used- doubled the recipe & gave 2 pans to 2 friends. Rave reviews all around- thank you!!

  82. Cindy

    Made this tonight. Definitely a keeper. I used chicken broth, canned tomatoes, and dried oregano. It was absolutely delicious. The lemon zest was a nice touch. I suspect the leftovers will be even better!

  83. Sara

    Made this tonight. I substituted quinoa and par-cooked it a bit before. As far as consistency, it turned out well. I ended up increasing the carrots & celery, which really diminished the eggplant (as Deb suggested it would). That was a bad call on my part, b/c I really could hardly taste the eggplant. I also upped the oregano to 3 TBLS, and in the future I wouldn’t do that. Overall, it was good flavor, but I was pleased b/c I was able to get lots of veggies & protein (via quinoa). I would say I liked it, but didn’t love! But, I would try it again with orzo and more eggplant, and make the more legit SK recipe. Thanks, as always!

  84. Durham girl

    Am I the only one who really DOES like a pound of cheese in a big old gloppy mess of casserole? ‘Cause I do! So I added a bit more mozzarella than Deb calls for and also threw in some asiago with the parmesan, because I had it in my fridge.

    Seriously, though, I made this Saturday night and we had leftovers tonight. My conclusion is — I don’t really like eggplant all that much! The flavors of the casserole are good but next time I’d substitute something else for the eggplant. It just doesn’t have much flavor. I loved the lemon zest but kept the oregano to just one TBL. Will I make this again? Hmm, probably not until next summer.

  85. Stephanie

    So I skipped the rinsing step. Which was very silly. The flavor was delicious but it was a little gummy/starchy. I will definitely make this again, but will rinse the orzo, or use cooked brown rice. Thanks for a great recipe.

  86. Giuliana

    Deb-

    Have this in the oven right now- can’t wait! I have to mention though: if you liked this, you would probably like Giada’s baked penne with roasted veggies. I know, I know, Food Network recipe- but years ago I gave it a shot and it was amazing (definitely because of the herbs de provence roasted veggies, fontina and smoked mozzarella). Since then, we always make it for a crowd, with rave reviews.
    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/baked-penne-with-roasted-vegetables-recipe/index.html

  87. Alexis (the second)

    Holy moly, this turned out awesome. It smelled so good when I took it out that I couldn’t resist having a serving, even though I already ate dinner.

    I used an intermediate amount of carrot and celery, lots of lemon zest, and a minor amount of oregano. I was going to add parsley and summer squash but forgot/ran out of time. I actually meant to substitute some farmer’s cheese I bought at the market, too, but ended up buying mozzarella anyway because it was still on my shopping list. As far as stringy goodness I think this was a good call.

    One advisory I would give is that if you have juicy tomatoes, you can reduce the amount of water/broth. It turned out a little bit watery (not too) and I think it’s because I was using SUPER RIPE garden tomatoes that were very liquidy.

  88. SKIM

    I skipped the carrots and it turned out great. I used an entire lemon for the zest and loved it. Even down here in Texas where the fall is currently 82F, it still works for us!

  89. kaberett

    I had a dream about making this last night (I have never used orzo. I am very definite that this is what prompted said dream). My dream was very definite about the inclusion of red pepper, though. So there you go…

  90. I am going to whole foods this morning and pick up the few items needed, and make this for my youngest at VCU,she will be so happy on Tuesday when I take this to her! Thanks again for all the great recipes!

  91. Kate

    Ottolenghi also uses the eggplant-lemon zest combo in a risotto recipe in his cookbook Plenty. It’s amazing how much flavour there is in such a simple combination.

  92. Scott

    Well, this was a pleasant surprise! Made it to accompany Sunday Nite Football and it was even better than Peyton. Go for the zest (literally – used about 3/4 large lemon’s worth) it adds a lot. Being oregano phobic, I used 1 tablespoon fresh thyme and 1/2 tablespoon dried marjoram with imho good results. Be warned though; it is one ugly mass of glop before baking.

  93. Gretchen N.

    See, this is creepy…I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with an eggplant I have for a couple days. Thank you!! oh, and please come to Pittsburgh! We’re only a few hours away. ;)

  94. Juliette

    Made this over the weekend and was pleased with how it came out. I subbed rosemary for the oregano & topped the casserole with the parmesan so I’d get a cheesy crust. Otherwise, I was true to the recipe. I agree with the 2nd Alexis – I ended up with a little more liquid than I’d prefer (but that could have just been due to the amount of liquid in my veggies). I’d either add a little more orzo next time or reduce the liquid (depending on how you like your pasta to veggie ratio). Overall, it’s a hearty, satisfying dish & I’m planning to make several versions as fall marches on.

    Thanks so much for the post! Best wishes on your upcoming book release.

  95. Richard O

    I liked the dish because I really like eggplant that is not immersed in cheese. The dish turned out a little watery – likely due to the ripe tomatoes so I will reduce the added liquid next time. Also, I may not have done a thorough job of salting/draining the eggplant. Or perhaps I should have sauteed the egg plant at a higher heat?

    I am looking forward to your book that’s backordered on Amazon.

  96. Erin

    made this last night with a bit of a twist. after the first 20 minutes of baking, I stuffed this delicious baked pasta inside blanched bell peppers. Then, I stuck the peppers in a baking dish with fresh tomato sauce lining the bottom and baked for another 20 minutes. Ate the stuff peppers with sauce spooned over them. What a great way to use up all the great veggies in season. Thanks for the inspiration!

  97. Colleen

    Fresh out of the oven, this was delicious, but the next day I found the lemon flavor had faded (I used the zest of one whole lemon) and the pasta was unappealingly mushy/gummy. Maybe because I neglected to rinse the orzo?

  98. Made it last night, and just had leftovers for lunch. Delicious – and just the right amount of cheese.

    The whole thing tastes almost buttery, without any at all.

    Thanks.

  99. NicM

    I am right there with you on breaking out fall recipes as soon as September hits. A few years ago I started making a list of my favorite fall foods so I would remember them all. Well, I pulled it out the other day and I could make a different dish every day for at least a month! I just wish my eggplant hadn’t been suffocated by the zucchini plants.

  100. Oh man, that looks PERFECT! I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a lasagna. I’ve eaten lasagna before, but … and this looks amazing.

    Also? Totally craving soup with you. I’ve been trying to use everything in my freezer so I can start making stock, in fact! Thanks for posting this. It really looks divine.

  101. Barb

    I just made this for dinner tonight and it was awesome! It came out perfectly even though I had an eggplant emergency – my beautiful, firm eggplant was rotten inside, very sad :(, so I went to plan B and used a large zucchini that had been destined for stuffing. I followed the rest of the directions pretty closely and really doubted the orzo would be cooked when the timer went off, but you came through again!! I’ve never had one of your recipes fail (so why did I have doubts?) and am seriously looking forward to getting your book; any chance you’ll come to East TN?

  102. Barbara

    Just like the previous Barb, I made this tonight with zucchini instead of eggplant. I also had spinach that had to be used and I added some great northern beans too. It was absolutely perfect and will become a regular in our rotation! I, too, doubted the timing, but it was spot on. Even my meat-loving husband thought this was a complete and delicious dinner! Can’t wait to devour the leftovers!

  103. Erin

    This dish sounds like a great way to get your pasta fix without feeling like you just ate a bowl of straight carbs– a wonderfully light dish! I’m not the biggest fan of eggplant, but I bet zucchini would fit tastefully here as well. Thanks for sharing!

  104. Geneen

    Really tasty dish! Had all the veg from my garden and organic delivery box. Didn’t use a ton of lemon and might peel the eggplant next time.

    Thanks for the recipe.

  105. I’ve loved your site for a long time – your recipes are always stored in my files as dishes worthy of repeating, but I have to tell you that in recent months you’ve literally been my savior. My husband and I moved to India (from Brooklyn) about three months ago and I don’t have an oven or most of the ingredients I consider my “go-tos”. But SO many of your beautiful recipes have been the perfect fit (or at least perfectly adaptable) for our situation. So though I’ve never commented before, I really thought this time I owed you a big THANK YOU!!!

  106. Caroline

    Made this last night, just in time for the cool spell. At first I couldn’t believe you only got 4 servings out of it, because it’s a ton of food… so I parsed it out into 8 servings… but kept nibbling on the edges of the rest after I’d eaten my allotted amount. It is really addictive; so many textures and flavors and it’s not too cheesy. I can’t wait to try this again with cooler-weather variations. Pumpkin and kalamata olives? Fennel and chickpeas? There are so many possibilities. A sweet version with butter and cinnamon would be lovely too!

  107. Liz

    We made this for dinner last night and LOVED it! I used the higher amounts given for lemon zest & oregano and thought the flavor was perfect, although some chopped kalamatas will probably find their way in next time. It was so luxurious and yet actually pretty virtuous — magical stuff!

  108. Stephanie B.

    Made this last night, and it was fabulous. I used the zest of a whole lemon, and it really gave the dish just enough flavor to be outstanding! I made mine into 5 servings, for weekday lunches.

  109. M

    I made this almost exactly as written. It was amazing! The only changes I made were to peel the eggplant skin (I’m not a fan), and I baked it in individual casseroles so I could freeze it for future dinners. In the individual dishes, I got five servings.

  110. Jessica

    I’m afraid to sound stupid here, but how do you rinse pasta without it plumping up and congealing before you add it at the end? I managed to break it up when it was in the frying pan but I’m worried it won’t cook correctly. (It’s in the oven now.)

    1. deb

      Jessica — There’s no such thing as a stupid question here! :) I didn’t have this problem with my orzo buuut I also forgot to rinse it until the last moment before I put it in (and not in advance prep, as the ingredient list would suggest) which meant it didn’t have as much time to get clumpy. I suppose some pastas could be clumpier than others, but still, I’m surprised it wouldn’t break up when you saute it with the tomatoes for the last couple minutes. Did it all work out?

  111. Ingrid Hoets

    Hi and thank you for your wonderful recipe. I tried it last night on my huge extended family. Three Asian kids – not so excited (I think it was the mozzarella – Chinese kids seem to be lactose intolerant) Western kids – too healthy for them. All the adults in the house raved and agreed that a few anchovies fried in with the onion and garlic, would pop the favours a bit more. As I doubled the quantity I found that I needed to add a little more liquid. This morning I revisited the left-overs and the flavour had improved dramatically – so certainly a great recipe to make ahead. Thank you.

  112. Rebecca C.

    Just made this and really loved it. Still, we are trying to reduce wheat so next time will try with a combination of brown and red rice (orzo didn’t hold up when dish reheated). I am so sad you are not coming to The Holy City – Charleston, SC. and then on to Savannah, GA – I am pretty sure you would enjoy both (early Spring is gorgeous in this area, hint).

  113. Holy wow, this was delicious. I made it last night exactly as written, but I just mixed everything in my skillet and baked it in that. One less dish to clean . And, BOY OH BOY, did that lemon zest ever kick it up a notch! I was hard pressed to limit my consumption. YUM!

  114. There are so many of my favorite things in this dish! We have a whole bunch of eggplant from our CSA that I’m running out of ideas for, I think this might be dinner tomorrow. Perfect for the newly cool evenings. YUM!

  115. June

    This was beyond-my-expectations good — especially with all the farm fresh ingredients available! I will definitely be making this again and again.

  116. Danita

    Hi Deb,
    Making this tonight. Did you sauté the eggplant in the entire 1/4 c of oil? You mention sautéing the carrots and celery in the remaining oil, but the eggplant absorbs all of the oil, so I added a bit more to the skillet prior to adding the carrot/celery dices. Can’t wait to taste it. I’m super happy Seattle is on your tour list.
    Thanks

  117. Wendy

    Made this 2 nights ago. I used 1 tablespoon dried oregano instead of the fresh. I would decrease the oregano slightly next time. And perhaps a tad less than the 1 teaspoon of lemon peel I used. My son and I really enjoyed this dish.

  118. I agree with the other raves here – this was filling and comforting without being heavy. I put the sliced tomatoes on top sprinkled with some of the parm and that worked very well.

  119. Joy

    Made this last Sunday and it was delicious! Lots of prep work but it can be done ahead of time and then it’s a piece of cake to assemble and cook. I doubled the recipe and between 6 people it was gone by Wednesday!

  120. Ellen

    This was crazy good! My three tween/teen boys devoured it and asked when we could have it again (silent cheer from a mom of meat eaters).

  121. I made this last night and since my husband can rarely eat a meal without some kind of protein in it, though, so we added chicken. It was a little runny, but I think I might have just needed to leave it to bake in my (terrible) oven for a bit longer to set. Still, I really enjoyed it and am excited that I have tons of leftovers for lunches on the next two days.

  122. Juliana

    Any word on freezability? I’d love to make this for lunch next week, but think I’ll have to cook this Friday and won’t eat til Monday. So a short freeze. Has anyone had luck? I don’t want the orzo to get mushy.

  123. Eileen

    This recipe is a happy home for all the eggplants, onions, tomatoes and oregano in my garden. Made it last night and it got rave reviews. I was a little skeptical about using the lemon zest, but I’m glad I did. It was delicious!

  124. sarahjrslm

    Having read this recipe, I stumbled on Yotam Ottelgheni’s new book, and had to buy it! It is beautiful, and I can’t wait to read it!

  125. Lisa

    I did accidentally try this with rice, as I mistakenly bought the rice that looks like the pasta that I was supposed to buy…Risotto rice. It turned out great but had to bake it 20 minutes longer or so. Put some olives on top and that was tasty as well.

  126. Rachel

    I made (a version) of this and it was incredibly good. I didn’t do the mirepoix bit, and I used fresh basil instead of oregano and added some kale because I had to use them up. I also added an italian-style veggie sausage (again, needed to use it up). I’m looking forward to trying the recipe again as written this weekend. I agree with other posters that the lemon zest makes the dish.

  127. Sini

    Made it last night and it turned out quite perfect. Comfort food. And what’s best about this dish is that there are endless possibilities for playing around with ingredients.

  128. Andie

    Made this last night and it was absolutely OUTSTANDING! We are vegan, so we substited Daiya block Jack cheese for the mozzerella and it worked beautifully! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe :)

  129. Sanchez

    Hi, Deb. Our farmers’ market is already out of tomatoes (sigh). Do you think I could do this with canned tomatoes? And if so, should I do something extra to them, like throw them in the skillet with the other veggies to cook out some of the acidity? Thanks.

  130. Courtney Ostaff

    Sooo yummy. I subbed Swiss chard stems for the celery, 2tb lemon juice for the lemon zest, garlic scapes for the garlic cloves, and 1/2 the oil in the form of bacon grease for the olive oil (because, hey, we had BLTs for dinner. ;) Love, love, love this! So much easier than eggplant parm (my former go-to dish for eggplant), and better for you!

  131. GBannis

    Doubled the recipe and made it for a potluck. It was a hit!

    I may have used a bit more salt since I added pinches as I was frying the mirepoix. I also used chicken stock because I had no vegetable stock and wanted a deeper flavor than plain water.

    BTW, the crunchy crust was a big plus!

  132. Ashby

    Gorgeous. The kind of recipe that smells and looks as delicious while you’re making it as it eventually tastes. I doubled it and it filled a 9×11″ and a 9×9″ dish. I also used canned tomatoes, so I reduced the broth by 1/3 and it was perfect.

  133. Jay

    This looks delicious and is something a bit different than I would normally make, so I’m looking forward to trying it. However, I was thinking of leaving out the tomato paste, simply because the rest of the can of paste will never get used and will go to waste.

    I wasn’t sure if the paste functioned for taste or binding ingredients or both. What do you think about leaving it out?

    1. deb

      Jay — When I open a can of tomato paste, I scoop out 1 tablespoon scoops of the can and freeze it on a piece of waxed paper. Once firm, I drop them all in a bag. Then, I have tomato paste in small increments in the freezer for whenever I need it.

  134. CherylInAlaska

    I’ve made this twice in the last week (chilly blustery fall in Anchorage has me craving comfort foods). It is a huge hit with the over-3 set. The 3-and-under set are not impressed, but never are. Tomatoes here are uniformly awful so I’ve been using the Pomi chopped tomatoes as a substitute, and also traded 1/2 c broth for 1/2 c of the tomato juice that comes from straining them. Works pretty well, but I haven’t figured out how much of the chopped tomatoes approximate 3 real ones. Any thoughts?

  135. I just made this and made only a few little changes. I didn’t have celery or oregano so I just used carrots and then added a little thyme. I also baked mine for 45 minutes in my 12 inch cast iron skillet that I prepared all of my ingredients in, and it worked wonderfully. Extremely delicious dish, especially the two cheeses.
    Thanks for continuously providing great ideas!

  136. RachH

    I made this last night but with the original amount of carrots and celery (ended up with about a cup of each, diced). I also had a can of vegetable broth in the pantry that I wanted to use up, so I used that as in the original recipe. Holy yum, it was delicious. I’m going to add more lemon zest next time and a few kalamata olives all chopped up. Thanks for another keeper!

  137. RachH

    @Jay #244: The tomato paste adds to the flavor in a big way. You might be able to get away with using a very finely chopped sundried tomato or two instead, but to me, the concentrated tomato flavor is needed since fresh tomatoes are a bit watery. If you do use the tomato paste, please know that you can pre-measure the rest of the can by tablespoons into an ice cube tray and freeze them, then store them in a freezer bag to take out one by one as you need them in the future. It works like a charm! Good luck.

  138. Auburn

    I doubled this to take to a tailgate on Saturday and, unfortunately, it didn’t seem to go over that well. Only a few people even tried and those who did, didn’t go back for seconds–never a good sign. Given the labor involved, I can’t say I’ll make this again.

    In the interests of full disclosure, my changes/substitutions:
    -For the tomatoes, I had a few heirloom and some heirloom cherry tomatoes so threw those all in (I was trying to use things up)
    -I did more carrots and celery per the original recipe, but did do a fine chop on them
    -I used chicken stock in place of the veg stock (I keep chicken on hand and always prefer the flavor)
    -I used dried oregano

    I didn’t end up with any of the runniness issues that others experienced but for whatever reason, this didn’t blow me away–I think perhaps because there was no stand out flavor. I reheated a portion last night and added a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a lot of siracha and that helped immensely.

  139. Jay

    Thanks RachH (#250) for the information and your suggestion. I like the idea of freezing the paste since I don’t use it often. I also like the possibility of trying sundried tomatoes since I use those more often. Either way – it’s good to know the paste is that important to the flavor.

  140. christine

    Made it on acool night and we loved it! Note to Jay- i buy tubes of tomato paste- great for adding a tablespoon or so to a recipe- lasts forever. Loved the lemon zest!

  141. Alice

    I made this tonight, and overall loved the flavors and final product! A few notes in case anyone else makes this mistake… I used a few carrots (instead of one) and then undercooked them when I was sauteing them. It wasn’t the end of the world, but they weren’t as tender as they probably should have been. I also added a finely diced jalapeno to my dish while sauteing all the veggies which added some good spice for those who like a bit of heat.

  142. Lauren

    The lemon and oregano are the perfect complements to the eggplant and tomato. I also love how it is not a traditional heavy baked Italian dish. We just had it for dinner last night, it was perfect for an early Fall meal. I am glad I made a double batch! I will be sure to make this again soon!

  143. Jenna

    I love every recipe of yours I have tried! This one is delicious and reheats so easily. I just finished it off for lunch after a couple nights of dinner. I had never made Orzo previously. Thanks for helping me branch out! I will try the freezing on wax paper of tomato paste, too. Perfect!

  144. Macy

    I made this over the weekend and it was amazing! Just delicious. It turned out perfectly, and I followed the recipe to a tee – well, I may have put in an extra carrot b/c I love carrots! But the orzo was perfectly done, and the eggplant was indeed pillowy. I’ve already bought more eggplant so that I can make it again this week. SO delicious.

  145. I have been dying to make something with eggplant that doesn’t involve frying each individual slice (but I will totally do that, anyway, because I LOVE eggplant parm), so I need to try this! I also just read an article in Food and Wine on Ottolenghi and cut out some of the featured recipes- one of them is lamb-stuffed eggplant. But this looks so comforting and cheesy… perfect for the rainy weather we’ve been having. Thanks!

  146. Debbie C

    Just made this for dinner tonight and I loved it so much! Had to make a couple minor adjustments based on what I had, but it was delicious and complex. And I don’t even like eggplant that much! Definitely keeping it in the fall dinner rotation.

  147. Catie G

    Hi Deb!

    Just made this dish (I am genuinely typing with a plate in front of me as I speak), and was wondering about an issue I had with the eggplant. I assumed the salting of the eggplant was to get it less sponge-like to prevent it soaking up all the oil in the pan…despite liberal salting and a 35 minute sit, my eggplant sucked up all the oil like a complete jerk. Any suggestions as to how to prevent that for next time? Or should I have expected it to leave only the lightest of coatings of oil behind on the pan? Obviously, it was otherwise delicious and wonderful.

    Thanks!

    1. deb

      Catie — “Like a complete jerk” — love it! It probably absorbed less than it would have if it wasn’t salted but yes, eggplant can be tricky. I am glad you still found it delicious.

  148. Angela

    hi deb! I made this tonight and it was lovely! like ratatouille pasta! but I think it might serve way more than 4? not that I’m complaining… :) can’t wait to see you at Politics and Prose in D.C.!

  149. Brenda

    I just made this for lunch, and we loved it! I used fresh thyme instead of oregano and it tasted great. I also added the mozzarella and the parmesan after I transferred the rest to the baking dish, which created a nice cheesy blanket. Thanks for a great recipe–even my meat-loving boyfriend loved it!

  150. Karen

    Made this for dinner last night and it was terrific. My husband had two helpings and then ate some more for a midnight snack. I added a couple of cubed zucchini to one large cubed eggplant and roasted them in the oven (400 for 25 minutes) while I prepared the other ingredients. I didn’t have mozzarella so I substituted Monterey Jack and it was more than fine. Like the previous comments, this filled a lasagna pan and would easily feed 6+. No matter… more tasty leftovers for us!

  151. karolina

    hi deb! so excited to make this…

    maybe you’ll get to this before i begin to cook — maybe not (haha.) i am going to try to use rice instead of pasta. do you think i should cook the rice beforehand or just let it do its thing just like the pasta did…not sure on this one.

    thanks! kp

    1. deb

      Maybe half-cook the rice? I’m not positive as to how much extra liquid it will need to cook but I bet that will work. Another option would be to fully cook the rice and skip the extra broth/water in the baking dish.

  152. SusanFromMd

    I made this last night and it was a huge success. I used canned tomatoes since we didn’t have paste, and cooked them a bit more than in your recipe to reduce the liquid. The only change I’d make is to cook the carrots a bit more — mine were a little too crunchy.

    I doubled the recipe and it made enough for 3 hungry people for dinner, + leftovers for 2 lunches. I guess we eat a lot :-(

    Thanks for the recipe!

  153. karolina

    Thanks deb! That’s just what I did. It came out really tasty :).

    If anyone else is looking to substitute rice for pasta, we used spanish rice and only cooked it some of the way, it probably had another 15 minutes to go. We kept the dish in the oven for 10 or so extra.

    Cheers!

  154. Just delicious! 8oz orzo was over a cup, so I added a bit more water. I also used crushed red pepper instead of black as we like a little spice. This is what my family calls “a repeat” – thanks!

  155. JugglingMom4

    Loved this! It was a hit with the family. I added chopped kale at the step where the onions, carrots and celery went (it looked really good at the farmer’s market).

    As for the tomato sauce debate, why doesn’t everyone use the tomato paste in a tube?! It’s been life-changing!

  156. Chelsea

    Subbed lemon thyme for the oregano, still kept the lemon peel, and it was so bright and fresh, yet really filling and satisfying. Thanks for another great one!

  157. Lisa D

    I made this and it was absolutely wonderful. So comforting and delicious! I also added about two cups of broth, and the previously mentioned tomato paste in a tube. It came out perfect!

  158. This is fabulous’ I’ve just moved to Rome for a bit and it’s amazing to see a recipe somewhere where all the ingrediants are actually on hand and easy to find (you’d be surprised- cumin, baking soda, vanilla extract? Don’t even get me started!)
    One little question though. I have a little flavour/texture problem with a lot of eggplant (Oh, how funny that sounds to my Brit ears- aubergine!). I’m sure I’m not alone but I’ve found it to sometimes have a very wet leaf taste in the back of the throat, maybe like some tea brews? I don’t know. Is this an eggplant dish for the not quite yet eggplant converted? Zucchine (hehe, courgette) and squash are also fine to grab here but the eggplant looks SO PURTY. They even do a sort of speckled white and lilac one.
    Thanks, I’m unlurking for this, I love the blog and read most days :) x

  159. Susanna

    I tried this last night and I will add my grade of “yummy” to the pile. Great comfort food. Like some folks, I might add some kalamatas to kick up the taste a little, and agree that some zucchini could work well also. Great mouthfeel.

    I had the same problem as Jennifer(?) above–I rinsed my orzo toward the beginning and then settled down to chop everything else, and found it welded into one big mass in the bowl! I was able break it up before it went into the skillet, but, y’know, ack. I just made a note for future–don’t rinse the orzo until you’re ready to use it!

  160. Lexi

    About three months ago someone sent me a link to homemade ice cream sandwiches on your web site because I, too, am obsessed with making things like pop tarts from scratch… and with farmer’s markets… and with dessert… and with cool moms… and I kind of sort of fell in love with you! You’re amazing! I cook something from your web site almost every day. Thank you for this delicious recipe. Even my eggplant-suspicious family members liked it. And all the dozens of other delicious recipes I’ve tried that I forgot to comment on. And all the hundreds that I get to make still. YAY for YOU!

  161. Kristin

    I planted eggplant for the first time in my garden this year, determined to figure out a way to eat one of the few vegetables I didn’t like. I learned to enjoy them grilled, but this was one of the first eggplant recipes that I made and gobbled down and came back for more. The best part was that I used the tomatoes and eggplant and oregano from my garden – and also threw in some basil because I still have tons of it on hand. I think I’d leave the foil on a little longer next time because the top layers of orzo were too crunchy for my taste, but otherwise, delish!

  162. Hillary

    Made this as a birthday present to myself tonight (happy birthday to me!!)…been dying to try and it, and the 4 year old had started to nag, “Mama, when are you using that eggplant already?!” I used smoked mozzarella and would highly recommend it. It was such a lovely combination with the zest. My husband–not the biggest eggplant lover of all time–said that he thought he thought that even someone who despised eggplant would like this. So you might be able to fool some unsuspecting person who is under the impression they don’t like eggplant into trying it (it always worked when I told my friends in elementary school that my tongue sandwich was corned beef…I’m a bad person!)

  163. Amy

    Hi- I served this dish– and your apple cake–on Saturday for my son’s 5th birthday party. I prepped the orzo dish the night before and baked it saturday afternoon, and it was delicious. Lots of compliments. I had doubled the recipe, so fortunately I have leftovers to enjoy this week. I used fresh thyme instead of oregano, but followed all the other directions to a T. I had no problems with runny-ness or blah-ness as some other commenters have mentioned.

    The apple cake is to die for, seriously. I made your applesauce recipe to use in the cake and it turned out so moist and rich…it’s really the epitome of a fruity, spicy fall dessert. Thanks so much for making the party awesome!

  164. Kelly

    Foot stomping, oh-em-gee, must.make.more! good. Pretty sure I am going to be making this…I don’t know… once a week for the rest of my life? Totally hit the spot.

    Thrilled the cookbook release is just around the corner. You deserve this moment of glory!

  165. Laurel

    Hmm, I followed all the directions but, like others, found the dish too watery at the end, and kind of blah. Also, the orzo wasn’t fully cooked (anywhere) by the end of the 40 minutes, so I re-covered the dish, increased temp to 375, and cooked another 10 minutes. That helped, but it was still blah. Also, initially, despite salting and draining the eggplant, it soaked up all my oil and stuck to the pan. I usually love your recipes, and this one’s failure was so unusual that I thought you might want to know.

    My orzo did look a little funny–I got it at the bulk section of the food co-op and I wondered if it might have been whole-wheat. So maybe that had something to do with it. If I made it again (and I might try), I might reduce the broth a bit, reduce the tomatoes a bit, cover for a little longer, and broil at the end, maybe with a cheese layer on top to make a different kind of crust.

  166. Kristina

    Made this last night and it turned out perfect! Sooooo good, Im actually eating the left overs right now for lunch. I only had a baby eggplant so added some yellow squash that I had. I also did not have oregano or lemon so left those out, and only had 1 cup of broth so just used water for the other 1/2 cup. Was able to cook everything in my cast iron pan so only had 1 pot to clean which is always a blessing. I will definitely be making this again!

  167. Erica

    Yummy! I’m not even a big eggplant fan and found this perfectly satisfying – a total fall comfort food kind of dish. Followed the recipe exactly as above – except left out the carrots and only took off the foil for last 7mins of baking. A new fall/winter staple. Thanks Deb.

    PS – See you in Toronto soon! Look forward to the cookbook!

  168. I’m with Laurel, I tried this recipe last night and it was unusually ‘meh’.
    I’m not convinced that the carrots and celery add anything to the eggplant and tomatoes. My orzo was overcooked despite the whole casserole being a little on the watery side. Probably my own fault but I don’t think I’ll be trying this one again.
    Luckily there was a pumpkin pie waiting for us at the end of the meal!

  169. Alison

    I made this last night and mine came out a bit watery. I was not sure I would be wild about the crunchy top, so I did 30 covered/10 uncovered, and that may have been part of the problem – less time for evaporation. My tomatoes were also a bit juicy. The flavors were good, but the texture was a bit blah. I think next time I’d cut the liquid a bit and trust you on the crunchy top, as it needs some kind of textural differentiation. Also, I think a handful of toasted pine nuts would work really well here.

  170. Anna

    I’ve made this 3 times already and the family (me, husband, 1 year old) love it! I used an entire lemon for the zest (Lemon zest! Where have you been all my life? I’m sneaking around my kitchen with a microplane trying to add zest to everything.) and AT LEAST 3 tablespoons of fresh oregano (FRESH oregano – how lovely!). I also put the sliced tomatoes on top and it looked so pretty all baked. And I did everything up to putting it in the oven and instead put in the fridge overnight for a easy week night dinner. It was perfection.

  171. This looks superb! I’m always looking for new ways to use eggplant, as it usually only shows its face in eggplant parmesan at my house. Thanks for the incredible looking recipe.

  172. Elizabeth

    What a delicious dish! I loved, loved, loved the lemon contrast. I froze this in individual portions before the baking stage, and it was a little soupy, but I just lengthened the cooking time by about 15 minutes and it turned out fine. WIth this and my flannel sheets, I am ready for fall!

  173. Julie

    So simple, and so good- that’s what I love about this site! Made it in advance and stored it in the fridge for 3 days before baking. The orzo was a little softer than it would normally be, but we still loved it. I used a 1 1/2 qt dish for the week and made a tiny casserole to put in the freezer. That may not turn out so well with the uncooked orzo, but how bad can it be?

  174. ESullins

    Good results here! FYI I wanted to use whole grain and couldn’t find whole wheat orzo at late notice, so I used whole wheat Israeli couscous instead. Easy substitution.

  175. pat

    Another way to get rid of potential bitterness in eggplant, esp the long thin ones is the quarter slice them almost up to the stem and dip in boiling water for a couple minutes. This is from a Greek cook and it worked for me.

  176. Christian Stadler

    This was a big win, not only for us but for our one year old son, who gobbled it up (even lifting his nose at his old favorite, sweet potatoes and butter!). The eggplants sucked up all my oil, so I had to add a little more when I moved onto the mirepoix.

  177. Sarah McK

    Oh my word. I made this dish this afternoon while my mother-in-law watched my infant son and let it reheat in a warm over tonight when my husband came home. I used dried oregano because I didn’t have fresh, but otherwise followed this recipe to a tee (which is unusual for me to do ;).

    This was divine. The eggplant practically melted into puddles of deliciousness. Definitely keeping this one, thank you!

  178. Lauren

    I just made this yesterday and I literally finished eating my leftovers lunch moments ago. What a perfectly perfect recipe. I did make one substitution: I used chicken stock rather than vegetable stock. It was still wonderful.

    Thanks, Deb!

  179. Maureen

    I just made this, but didn’t have enough eggplant, so I subbed in a can of chickpeas and I thought it still worked really well. Thanks for the great recipe!

  180. Traci

    My boyfriend and I are obsessed with this dish. We’ve made it twice in 2 weeks. In our second go-around, we replaced the eggplant with a bunch of red and orange peppers we need to use, we also used lime zest instead of the lemon. SOOO good! This is like a new ratatoullie – just throw in any veggies you’ve got and enjoy consistently delish results!

  181. Anne

    Made this tonight to take/bake for work colleagues tomorrow. Hope the orzo survives…will let you know. Keep up the great work! My fav is still your maple shortbreadahhhhhhhhh………

  182. I am ALWAYS saving recipes from your site but never seem to get a chance to make them for various reasons. This one is intriguing and different yet still manages to use ingredients I almost always have around (or are cheap to get if I don’t, like eggplant). My mods:
    added crushed red pepper because I love it,
    no celery,
    parmesan reggiano and asaigo cheese because that’s what I had,
    did a chicken stock/water mix because that’s what I had,
    added half a zucchini, pieces thinly sliced then quartered just for fun

    It was amazing!

  183. llaney

    I made this for dinner tonite — have been waiting for a week to make it because I was out of town when you first posted it. Have to say it was fabulous!!! I used chicken stock because that is what I had on hand, but other than that I followed the recipe exactly as printed, using most of the lemon zest from one whole lemon, and the extra amount of oregano as you mentioned — I even weighted the mozzarella to be certain I did not use too much. The orzo was cooked perfectly with the 20 minutes covered, 20 minutes uncovered — anyone who has trouble might want to check the internal oven temperature for accuracy — if the temp is not correct, the cooking times will be off. I like the eggplant — next time I might try using zucchini just for fun. Thank you for a delicious dish that I will make many times in the future!

  184. Eda

    I made this for dinner a few nights ago and added ground beef to the recipe. It was delicious!! My boyfriend described it as a little “hippie tasting” (whatever that means) but I thought it was unexpected with the tomatoes and fresh oregano (thank you, Deb, for making me try something other than dried herbs!) and thus perfect.

    Also, the sweating the eggplants was an aha! moment for me. Got the eggplants to be wonderfully soft and flavorful.

  185. Morgan

    I made this dish for dinner party last night as the main course and it was a hit. I am so thrilled there are leftovers for me to enjoy.

  186. Blair

    Made this tonight (3 carrots, 1.5 stalks celery, chicken instead of veggie stock, dried thyme instead of oregano and no lemon because I realized too late I didn’t have any) and it was delicious. Next time I will definitely add a large bowl for the mixing at the end–it was extremely difficult to mix because my frying pan was SO full.

  187. Catherine

    Made this the other night…so good! I used chicken stock as that was what I had on hand, farfalline pasta (mini farfalle) because the grocery store didn’t have orzo (I know, weird), canned diced tomatos (drained), and I used italian dried herbs because the only oregano I had was mexican oregano. With the mini farfalle, I think the pan needs to be covered most of the time so the pasta isn’t hard on top. Super tasty and easy to alter if you’re missing some ingredients. Going to try it with mushrooms instead of eggplant next time…

  188. Mary

    I made a double batch of this tonight and the flavor was great but the texture was not quite right–some spots were undercooked and some were overcooked and soggy. I wonder if I stirred it after 20 minutes it would cook more uniformly.

  189. Made. Eaten. Delicious!!

    Also, I made your broccoli fritters a couple of nights ago at the recommendation of a friend. It’s ok to eat the entire batch at once, right? I mean, it’s broccoli… right? Loving your blog – keep up the good work!

  190. Sara S.

    Just thought that you should know, my husband made this for me tonight. Wait- I’ll say that again: My husband made this for me tonight. My husband, who has not cooked a meal of his own in well over a year now, made this dish- THIS ONE- for me tonight. And even though I thanked him, I thank you as well! It was delicious!!! Totally making it again! Thank you!

  191. I am on my way to the store right now to buy the things I am missing. I bought two eggplants at the farmers market and needed something to do with them. Glad I found this, it sounds amazing! Though I am going to add some mushrooms to it. My husband and I love them and I think it would work!

  192. Rachel

    I’m happy to say this has gone into permanent rotation for me. I’ve just stuck it in the oven for what must be the fourth time since the recipe came out. I never do exactly the same thing, but it is always great. A true winner, Deb!

  193. Diana

    I’ve made this recipe for the third time tonight. It’s delicious, I change up the veggies, add spinach, what-have-you. When we roast a chicken, we throw in the last little pickings from the carcass. I love it and so does the husband.

  194. Ace

    I made this last night and it was delicious! I see other folks asking about using other grains, so I wanted to report that I used farro in place of orzo and it came out great – love the toothiness and nutty flavor (sounds dirty!). BUT, it took a lot longer – like an extra 20-30 minutes – for the farro to soak up all the broth and be fully cooked, even though I had previously boiled it for 5 minutes (the package said it should cook in 10 minutes in the pot on the stove, so I took a shot on half-cooking it). Would love to hear if others had better success with farro than I did – it tasted great, but we ate close to 9 pm and were starving. But again, it was so delicious! Thanks Deb.

  195. Jessica

    Made this for tea tonight and it was classic Ottolenghi. Simple, new, not too expensive and most importantly, absolutely delicious! It was somewhere between a risotto, ratatouille and pasta bake, and man was it good. Plus, due to a depleted household there is enough left over for my lunch tomorrow!! :)

  196. Loved this – the combination of ingredients is superb… I couldn’t face reading all 330 comments, but wonder if anyone else found that adding the extra teaspoon of salt was a bit too much? I’d definitely make this again, but without the extra salt. Yummo! ;)

  197. Joana | myseastory

    332 comments and totally worth it! I tried it today, added some zuchini too and it was delicious. The lemon zest gives it the perfect hit. Thank you!!!

  198. Erika

    This was ridiculously good! I swapped the eggplant for crabmeat because that’s what I had on hand. I also tweaked the other veggies a little – I had some spinach and green onion. Better than any restaurant! Definitely going in my go-to file! Thanks!

  199. I made this yesterday for two friends and loved it. I had never used Orzo before (hadn’t even HEARD of it before), but I found something that resembled “rice-shaped pasta” in the supermarket and it worked perfectly. It may have also convinced me to buy Ottolenghi’s book :) But only once I’ve got my copy of yours and eaten it alllll! :)

  200. This is AMAZING. I subbed the oregano for thyme, put in some extra mozzarella, and baked it for 30min covered/10min uncovered. I went back for seconds and thirds. My boyfriend is not yet home from work and it’s VERY tempting to eat his share….

  201. Ashley

    Just wanted to chime in that I just tried using farro in place of orzo. I used Trader Joe’s 10-min farro, so I didn’t pre-cook the grain. My ratio was about 8.8 oz of farro (the whole package; believe that’s about a cup) to about 2 cups of broth. I also used a can of crushed tomatoes rather than fresh, which added a bit more liquid. It took about an extra 15 minutes to bake in the oven. Overall, the dish is looser than the orzo version or other pasta bakes, but delicious and hearty all the same. I’d absolutely recommend using farro or other grains! Wonderful recipe!

  202. Allie

    Thanks for the recipe; I just made it, and it was great! I was just wondering, is it really only supposed to be 1 teaspoon of tomato paste? I added it, but can’t really see or taste it at all in the final dish. Thanks again!

  203. Kay

    I absolutely LOVE how you describe the dishes you post on here. It literally makes a person salivate and /want/ to try new things. I’ve always been a bit picky, but for some reason, when I hear ‘eggplant’ I immediately want to try the dish- and I’ve never had eggplant before in my life! This looks amazing, and I’m sure it tastes amazing too. I’m so glad I found your blog. :)

  204. Hello Deb – I made this recipe today & it is amazing! It’s eggplant season in Australia & our little garden is popping out lots of the them. I haven’t cooked with it a lot so i was excited when i saw this as I find dishes using big slabs of eggplant a bit much. Was also able to add our homegrown tomatoes, carrot, oregano & lemon! As always – thanks for the sharing & inspiration!

  205. Sarah

    I’m doing a bit of an asian riff on this tonight – coconut oil, kaffir lime leaves, coriander root (no ginger in house sadly), coriander leaves, lime zest, plus some feta marinated in chilli & coriander. Might be weird. I think it’ll be fab (though hard to go past the original…)

  206. Pandaxpress

    If I substitute red and yellow peppers for the tomatoes would they need to be cooked at all first to soften them? Thanks!

    1. deb

      You might prefer to pre-roast the peppers and take their skin off. Okay, I might. I prefer peppers that way, heh. If you’re okay with them possibly being a little more firm, no need to precook them.

  207. Pandaxpress

    Thanks deb! Just finished eating this for dinner. Actually did omit the tomatoes and did the roast peppers as you suggested – 2 red and 1 yellow, including the juice from roasting. Was really good! Also added some pieces of 1 Italian sausage, about 15 green olives halved, an extra carrot and celery and used chicken stock instead. Highly recommend this way!

  208. NT

    Hi Deb,
    I made this for a Shabbat lunch this Saturday and found it fine even for high summer in the city as it wasn’t overly cheesy or heavy. I added some flat-leaf parsley to use it up and did put sliced tomatoes over the top for the look. Wanting to reduce the use of oil, after salting and rinsing the eggplant I microwaved it for a minute and then sautéed and that worked well.
    I forgot to rinse the orzo (to no ill effect) and read the commens to see if anyone else made that miatake and what happened. The reverse had occured: there were problems with rinsing. I realized there is a slight error in the grammar of the recipe as written. The instruction to rinse the orzo should not be stated in the ingredient
    list. Rather, the direction for rinsing should be in the body of the recipe, thus insuring the rinsing doesn’t take place until the orzo is actually added.
    Thank you for this recipe!

  209. amy

    made this tonight using cherry tomatoes, ricotta instead of mozzarella, and catsup instead of the tomato paste as that’s all i had on hand. i agree with the previous reviewer that you may want to change the directions to rinse the pasta *just before* adding into the veg mixture so they don’t clump together. overall, this was DIVINE! my 14 month old ate it up, as did we. thank you!

  210. hal

    I’m not usually one to comment, but this was so delicious I couldn’t resist sharing! My garden has been producing eggplant faster than I can pick them this summer and I’ve been running out of new ways to cook them up… This was perfect!! I used whole wheat orzo and added a little extra broth because of that, but it didn’t need it. Thanks for another great recipe…. I’m a smitten kitchen addict :)

  211. Natasha

    As others have said, this was amazing. I think the zest of a whole lemon is essential.I made a few substitutions and thought I’d share them so others can benefit. I used quinoa instead of orzo. I was concerned about it cooking enough so I partially precooked it on the stove (equal parts water and quinoa for 8-10 min). I also replaced the celery with cabbage since I had some in the fridge and it seemed to work well. Also, since I am in the southern hemisphere and tomatoes are out of season and ridiculously expensive at the moment I replaced the fresh tomatoes with a tin (juice and all) and reduced the broth.

  212. Katherine

    I want to make this with yellow squash instead of the eggplant. Do you think squash would need to drain? I’m thinking just dice it and go!

  213. Jay

    I added feta as well, just seemed like the thing to do with eggplant, orzo, oregano, and lemon. It is still cooling but the little nibbles I’ve stolen from it are divine.

  214. Jay

    Katherine, I don’t think you need to drain squash. I am assuming Deb has us doing the salting/draining thing with the eggplant because it is bitter otherwise. Squash should be just fine as is.

    1. deb

      Jay and Katherine — Yes. A lot of people feel that eggplant can be bitter and that you need to salt/drain it to remove it. I honestly don’t find this (you can skip it), but it does produce a more supple eggplant going into the recipe, not a bad thing. Also, this comment on the subject makes me laugh.

  215. Sugarmama

    Oh how I love Deb!! (I seriously cook from you about 8 times a week – minimum). I could go on and on about how much I love your recipes – (but that might bore you:)). Instead this was a totally practical thing about this recipe. I think I have made it a bunch, and got myself confused because the stock was listed higher up in the ingredient list and in fact it was the last thing to add. For some reason I always thought it was added with the orzo over heat. But in fact it goes at the end?

  216. adrienne

    Last night with no dinner planned I began to review my recipe collection on my iPad. This recipe seemed perfect because there was a large eggplant in the fridge.
    I did use the larger proportions of oregano and lemon peel; and swapped out half of the orzo with 1 cup of cooked black lentils to increase the protein content.
    It took a bit longer than expected and next time I will start the process a little earlier.
    The casserole was really delicious and my husband loved it – which is a good thing when there is no meat included in the meal.
    Thanks for the recipe – I do have your book and love it, but in a pinch the Internet is a quicker search.

  217. Meighan

    Not sure anyone will read this comment all the way at the bottom, but just in case…I made this recipe once but didn’t care for the mozzarella, so this time I substituted feta. It made such a difference–it was almost creamy. I topped it with scallions when it came out of the oven, which was a nice contrast.

  218. Lesley

    How would you recommend doubling it? Two 8 x 11 pans or could you just keep it in the same pan and change the baking instructions? I have 8 people coming over and feel that it would be a great fall dish to serve.

  219. deb

    Was it undercooked on top or all over? Your variety may need extra cooking time or a touch extra liquid. (I haven’t had this happen, but that’s how I’d handle it if it did.)

  220. Sara

    I just doubled this – I’m baking half now and freezing half (without the broth). I added kale and I also saved some time by pulsing the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in the food processor. I’ll try to remember to post the post-freezer results …

  221. llaney

    I made this again tonite — the 4th or 5th time since right around this time last year when I made it the first time. Soooooo good! It’s cloudy outside and threatening to rain here in the San Francisco Bay Area, so it is the perfect dish with a quick pan fried salmon steak. I actually add more celery and carrots because I love them, and a tablespoon of tomato paste instead of a teaspoon, but otherwise follow the recipe exactly and it is FABULOUS!!! Oh, this time I used Japanese eggplant had a bunch of it lying around…totally yummy.

  222. emilytherese

    This dish is my happy place. I LOVE eggplant and the cheesy goodness that comes with it here. I really want to try the feta option though because I find the mozzarella a bit chewy but I think it might be the fresh mozzarella I use because that’s the only kind I can get at the store (I just moved to the UK a couple months ago). Anyway, another more technical question. Trying to improve on cooking and skills in the kitchen. I was curious why it is needed to add the orzo and cook for two minutes more. Is it just to heat it… doesn’t really seem necessary to me.

  223. deb

    You’re just trying to get the orzo to drink up those flavors directly a little — it’s not a big deal if you skip it (but you’ll want to add that cooking time elsewhere); Ottolenghi is very into building flavor in layers wherever possible, I’d say more so than quick weekday recipes that might gloss over these steps.

  224. Holly

    Thanks for another great recipe Deb!

    I added quite a bit more tomato paste to get a nice rich flavour. As another reviewer mentioned with theirs, my orzo wasn’t quite cooked so I just kept it in the oven for another 15 minutes or so. Looking forward to having this for leftovers!

  225. suzanna

    I made this today! Wonderful……I added fresh yellow zucchini….olives are next!
    can’t wait to search around for more recipes!

  226. Chloe

    It’s the second time I cook this recipe, and I really have to thank you because it’s incredibly good and tasty, with a rustic style that I love. It’s the kind of recipe I will make for years!

  227. Courtney

    So, I’ve made this about a billion times and am obsessed with it. But, I’m presently at the lake and it’s so hard to get the pilot light lit in our oven that there is no way for me to bake this. Do you have any other suggestions as to how to make this successful without use of an oven?

  228. Renny

    I love vegetables and eggplant, but I did not love this. It turned out watery and just…blah. I am sorry. Maybe I will try grilling the eggplant and just putting it on top of already cooked orzo. Thanks for this recipe! My boyfriend really liked it… The celery threw him off though.

  229. Jim

    Awesome recipe, came out perfect. Very delicious.

    My alterations:
    3t dried thyme (had no oregano)
    15 oz canned unsalted diced tomatoes, lightly drained (fresh are out of season and mealy right now)
    Caramelized/seared all veggies, seasoning while cooking (instead of seasoning
    after mixing)
    Cooked covered until bubbling – Renny, maybe your orzo didn’t cook through to release the starch?
    Uncovered and broiled, still on middle rack, low setting until browning.

    Flavors were fantastic! Thank you for sharing.

    Elisa- I think this dish would easily carry chickpeas, just rinse and drain well if canned (15 oz). I will try them, actually!

    1. deb

      Mary — I prefer using the dry-packed/harder stuff. No reason to use a water-logged mozarella for anything but a fresh salad or sandwich, in my opinion. But, if you only have one or the other, definitely don’t run back to the store over this, it’s not like the water-packed type won’t work.

    1. deb

      Mary — I’m talking about the stuff that comes vacuum packed or the stuff that comes wrapped tightly in plastic (this is what I mean by dry-packed) vs. the stuff that comes in water, like buffalo mozzarella. I don’t use pre-shredded mozzarella for pizza, but it’s closer to the dry stuff than the wet before it’s shredded.

  230. Thanks Deb. I now have fresh mozzarella vacuum packed and whole milk harder, more rubbery mozzarella vacuum packed. I am assuming you mean the latter which is in click form and could be shredded.
    Again sincere thanks.

  231. Kimberly

    This was a really great recipe – nice way to work eggplant (which I love) into a weekday menu and super simple to make. I tried to simplify and bake the casserole in the Le Creuset buffet pan that I sautéed everything in but this made the bottom layer of orzo stick. So – uh – follow the directions in the recipe :).

  232. Anne Harper

    I bought the ingredients to make this tonight, but I forgot the orzo! (typical). I am going to use farfalle, but am wondering if I should partially cook it first. I am thinking half of the cooking time, but then I am worried that it will be too mushy. Any advice?

  233. Stacey

    I need to make this in advance and freeze and am worried that the uncooked orzo will bloat with the stock. Should I leave out the orzo or leave out the stock until I defrost or just go ahead and make the whole thing as is? For sure, though, I am going to add the cheeses and zest after I defrost and bake. What do you think?

  234. Kristine

    I don’t know why but I’m not a fan of orzo, so I just made this with penne and par-boiled it for 5 minutes. I made a double batch and used 3 tbs of dried oregano. It was too much oregano for me, but my family liked it. We are meat eaters so I added a pound of chicken italian sausage. I also used vegetable broth. I personally thought there was too much going on once I added that… You were right Deb. It tasted more like vegetable soup which was not what I was going for. The texture was great though. I’d try again with just garlic,onions, tomatoes, eggplant, lemon zest, and cheese. No other veggies and no veggie broth, just pasta cooking water. Then sprinkle fresh basil on top instead of oregano.

  235. claire

    I’m with Renny on this one. Tasteless and bland. I think that grilling the eggplant would add a smoky addition that this dish needs. Also the addition of kalamatas would help a lot. For all the spices, etc., in this dish (and I used the full 3 T of oregano), it’s strangely meh.

  236. Jane

    Made this once before and we really enjoyed it. This second time just for fun I used a smoked mozzarella and added some artichoke hearts. Very nice variation.

  237. T

    I really enjoyed this dish, it’s a nice departure from the usual baked pasta dishes. Thank you to all the people who suggested using smoked mozzarella, which was a delicious change. I used about 3/4 tablespoon of dried oregano, zest from a entire lemon, and vegetable broth and found the seasons to be just right. I also made the stupid mistake of rinsing my orzo beforehand and leaving it to sit in the strainer, where it clumped up and stuck together. Oops. Glad to know I wasn’t the only one who made that mistake! I broke apart the orzo clumps after adding it to the pan and it came out fine.

  238. Lindsay

    Can this be baked in the same pan that you use to cook everything? Making it a one pot dish? Also, I am 2 oz shy of the 8 oz of orzo needed. Anything else I can substitute?

  239. Meghan

    Deb – I added lots of extra veggies (zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, extra tomatoes) because I had them…and just wanted to say THANK YOU because somehow this meal accomplished 2 things I previously thought impossible:
    1) make my 3 year old voluntarily eat vegetables (he ate every different kind, amazing)
    2) make both my children eat a “mixed-up” casserole. I think it was the tempting chunks of cheese throughout that kept them digging and not complaining about things being all combined.
    KEEPER!

  240. Elizabeth

    I made this in a cast iron pan – one pan start to finish. I also added fennel bulb, and used a mix of red wine and water in place of the broth. It was delicious! I will definitely be making this again!

  241. Maro

    I made this(ish) last night with about a zillion substitutions and it’s delicious! I over-salted a bit, but otherwise great. i look forward to making it again with more of the original ingredients. I love the fried eggplant so much.

  242. Jill

    Hi Deb- I searched the comments on this for “freeze” and it doesn’t seem like there is any word on if this freezes well and when in the process it should be frozen. This is SO SO good. I want to make an entire batch just to break up into servings for lunch at work that I can freeze and bring in whenever. Love it!!!

  243. deb

    Mia — Thanks, it was part of the dishes we registered for when we got married over 10 years ago, now discontinued. (Calvin Klein Khaki Cargo, I think, if you’re into hunting down discontinued stuff.)

  244. AC

    Made this last night with some adjustments. I didn’t salt or fry the eggplant; instead I peeled it and roasted slabs in the toaster oven with a little olive oil before cutting into chunks to add to everything. Didn’t measure the parmesan or tomato paste but next time I’d probably measure and use more of both; used zest of 1 lemon, about 3/4 TBS of dried oregano, chicken broth, less salt, cut up 3 canned whole tomatoes; baked 20 uncovered and 20 covered. I did NOT rinse the orzo. I thought the lemon flavor was too subtle but maybe my lemon was small. I enjoyed the simplicity of this dish letting the eggplant shine. Next time I’ll probably lessen the uncovered baking time and add more parmesan,tomato paste and tomato to bump up the flavors. The texture of the orzo on the top was more dry than “crispy” like lasagna top. For people who don’t like eggplant, this recipe with zucchini will probably be really good too. It reminds me a little bit of this recipe: https://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2014/06/pasta-and-fried-zucchini-salad/

  245. Heidi

    Wow. We’re living in Mumbai for a year, and it’s a struggle to come up with remarkable non-Indian food that I can make with what’s easy to find here. Using dry oregano and water were the only concessions I had to make, and I’m so glad I didn’t let those minor problems stop me! So amazing. It’s definitely in the running for my go-to vegetarian/potluck contribution.

  246. Corinne

    I am a little late to the game with your blog but I heard you on CYG the other week. I made this tonight for dinner and I am obsessed. It was so amazing and so easy. I will definitely be checking out other recipes on your blog! Thank you for sharing!

  247. Anna

    I made this last night and WOW, it was delicious! I have had a box of orzo sitting around for 1.5 years and while cleaning out my pantry this weekend, I figured I would find a recipe just to use it up and get rid of it. However, it seems that now I will be buying orzo more regularly! I love the brightness that the lemon zest gave to this!

    The only change I made was sautéing the eggplant instead of frying (only used about 1-2 tsp olive oil).

  248. Anna

    Ah, one other note – I didn’t have fresh oregano so I used 1tsp of zaatar instead.
    Also, in case anyone is wondering, this makes 4 HUGE servings. I would actually consider it 6-8 servings.

  249. Alisou

    I really enjoyed this recipe but wouldn’t say it is absolutely delicious. I followed Ottolenghi’s exact amounts but completely agree with you to significantly decrease the amount of carrots and celery. I also think that the amount of mozarella should be doubled and a generous sprinkle of Parmigiano on top creates a crust full of flavour (especially with fresh oregano sprigs on top)! A drizzle of truffle oil wouldn’t hurt at all!

  250. Pixel

    So one of my kids is vegan, the other is vegetarian, my partner is an obligate carnivore and I’m a flexitarian carbivore who eats meat but doesn’t care for it much. I made this dish to celebrate my new kitchen – and if this is an omen of things to come, this kitchen will produce some truly fantastic cooking and 100% satisfaction among family members across the culinary map.
    I tweaked the recipe to replace the eggplant with two large zucchini and some mushrooms (picky kids, lack of patience for the eggplant to de-bitter). I just sauteed all the vegetables together, added the pasta and seasoning, and portioned out a vegan serving into a separate dish (then went hog wild with the cheeses). Tonight will be my third time to make this in just over two weeks – what a revelation!

  251. McFadden

    This was delicious and will be going in my regular rotation. If your vegetable broth is already salty, you might want to reduce the salt a bit. I only added 1/2 tsp. at the end where it calls for a full tsp. and was glad I didn’t add the full amount.

  252. Pam

    Why had I never made this before?! Definitely going into my regular rotation. It is so good! Followed your directions closely – using water and dried oregano. Need to plant some new oregano in my veggie patch… In fact, I put the whole thing together one evening, refrigerated it, then cooked it the next (foil on 20 minutes, off about 30). Everyone loved it. Even better, I got to enjoy the leftovers. Still delicious.

  253. Oh, yes! I made this tonight because I had most of the ingredients in my garden. I went out and picked the eggplant, carrot, celery, tomato (and I had previously harvested garlic) and thyme (my oregano didn’t come back for me this year). The only items I didn’t grow were the orzo, onion and lemon.
    I made a couple substitutions. I didn’t have a fresh lemon, but I did have a jar of preserved lemons–have to start a new jar ASAP. And that was a great addition! I didn’t have tomato paste, so I didn’t bother with it, it was just one teaspoon and we didn’t miss it. I didn’t have broth, used 1/4 cup white wine and the rest water. Overall, this was easy to make and was really so amazing. I could eat the entire amount, and I did have a healthy second serving. The only thing keeping me from a third was my husband’s comment that it was “very filling.” Yes, but that’s not a good enough reason to stop. Apparently moral suasion is. Thank you!!