This recipe came from one of those nights that I didn’t want to go to the store, and with nothing in mind, I asked myself, What do we have on hand?
After some recon, this is what came up:
I thought, Tomato Orzo with cheese and whatever else I can throw in? On it.
This dish is a great example of a pantry recipe—something that can be made with a few easy ingredients that you can keep on hand.
Don’t have capers? Throw in chopped olives or something similarly savoury and pickled. No orzo? No problem! Use any small-shaped pasta.
This recipe is forgiving, although your fellow diners won’t have to be when they bite into the melty, delicious, umami flavour of this dish. It’s fast, flexible, and forgiving—what more could you want?
Serves: 4, small servings
Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add orzo, cooking until al dente.
While pasta cooks, in a non-stick skillet, sauté the onion until softened. Add the garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent.
Add the tomato paste and olives and stir well to combine. Add just a splash of balsamic vinegar and the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
When the orzo is done, drain and return to the pan. Add the tomato mixture, capers, and a handful of mozzarella shreds, reserving enough to cover the tops of four ramekins or baking equipment of your desire.
Transfer orzo mixture to ramekins or other baking dish. Just cover with mozzarella shreds and to with breadcrumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden.
In a small non-stick skillet, heat a table spoon or so of oil. Add 4 T capers and fry. Optionally, you could deep fry them, but that seems like a lot of effort, doesn’t it?
When orzo mixture is baked, remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Top with capers and serve.
Garnishes: fresh herbs or a sprinkle of pepper is really all that you need
Goes well with: a nice drinkable red, some crusty bread and oil, or a nice olive mix