Mr Orzo’s stuffed aubergine

Orzo. It looks like big rice, but tastes like small pasta. It is in fact pasta. And it makes a nice change from penne, spaghetti, or those little bows you like.

For some reason, Orzo also makes us think of Flat Eric, though we know full well that Flat Eric is associated with Mr Oizo, not Mr Orzo.

Anyway. Aubergine can be expensive in supermarkets, but tends to be a double-bargain in food markets. For this lightning-fast posh-looking vegetarian recipe, you need an aubergine, plus some orzo. The other stuff won’t set you back very much, and you may well be able to substitute other veg in.

Here’s how we rustled this up.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 2
1 big aubergine
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1/2 tin chopped tomatoes
Big handful of spinach
Couple of splashes of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
160g orzo
1 mozzarella ball

How to

Put the oven on at 180ºC.

Chop the aubergine in half lengthways, then cut a chequered pattern into the flesh in the middle. Try not to go through to the skin, though! You want that intact to you can stuff ’em later.

Drizzle the aubergine halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Put them in the oven for 20 minutes.

While those are cooking, finely chop up your onion, and crush the garlic. You might as well slice up the spinach and tomatoes while you’re at it too.

When the aubergines have about 5 minutes left in the oven, put a saucepan on, heat up some olive oil, and start gently frying the onion and garlic (with a generous pinch of salt and pepper).

When the aubergines have had their 20 minutes in the oven, take them out and scrape out the flesh with a couple of spoons. Again, try and keep the skin intact. Set the skins aside.

Sprinkle the half teaspoon of smoked paprika over the scraped-out flesh of the aubergine, then put the flesh in the pan with the onions and garlic.

Also add the fresh tomatoes and fry it all gently for a few minutes.

Finally, add a couple of splashes of balsamic vinegar and the half tin of chopped tomatoes, and stir in.

Now put your orzo on to boil – it should take around 6-7 minutes.

Put the spinach in with the pasta sauce now.

You’ve got a few minutes spare – so stop mooching around and roughly tear your mozzarella ball so it’s a load of thin streaks.

When the orzo is ready, drain it and stir it into the sauce.

Now, where did you put those aubergine skins? Carefully spoon the orzo and sauce into the skins.

Cover with mozzeralla, sprinkle with pepper, and shove into the oven for 10 minutes, or until the mozzerella is well and truly melted.

Have we made this sound tricky? It’s not – it’s a doddle, and it should take less than 40 mins.

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