Here's a recipe for those of us who love pasta with a passion but would rather do something else with all the time that sometimes goes into making it: my Lentil Orzo Bake. And, it has a cheesy crust to die for.
This is an easy weeknight casserole that practically cooks itself. Really. No standing over a big pot of boiling water, no constant sauteing and stirring to get the sauce just right. All you need is a saucepan, a baking dish, and a little time to chop some veggies and you're pretty much on your way to pasta heaven. Even better, this is the perfect brown-bag lunch to make the next workday something to look forward to.
I wanted to add some extra zip to my pasta bake, so I sprinkled into it some smoky garam masala and some cumin. This little trick amps up the pasta without giving it a strong Indian flavor profile -- which is exactly how I wanted it. You could leave out the garam masala altogether and you'd still have a pretty great dish.
To top off the pasta, I created this savory, cheesy crust that kicks up the flavor into the stratosphere. And, icing on the cake, it makes this healthy dish rather kid-friendly.
It's Saturday, all, the best day of the week. And I don't know about you, but I have big plans for the day, starting with making Desi, Jay, Opie and myself a huge vegan breakfast, and ending with snuggling on the couch with a movie and a glass of wine.
What are your plans for the weekend?
Lentil Orzo Bake
- 8 ounces dry orzo pasta
- 3 cups cooked brown lentils
- 2 large carrots, finely diced
- 2 large tomatoes, finely diced
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 tbsp garlic, use less if you'd rather-- I love lots of garlic in this, minced
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- For the cheesy breadcrumb topping:
- 1 cup wholegrain breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup coriander or parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- In a large saucepan, heat the 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
- Add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper. Saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent.
- Add the lentils, red pepper flakes, garam masala, and cumin. Stir well to mix. Add salt to taste. Let the lentils heat through, then mix in the tomatoes and dry orzo and stir well to mix.
- Pour the mixture into a large 9 by 12 inch baking dish. Add 2 1/4 cups of boiling water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.
- While the pasta is baking, get the breadcrumb topping ready. Mix the breadcrumbs, yeast, coriander, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.
- After the pasta has baked for 30 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and sprinkle on the topping evenly.
- Return to the oven and bake another 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden.