Baked Orzo Casserole With Tomatoes, Roasted Peppers and Squash

Orzo is a rice-like pasta often used in Mediterranean dishes. Here it is baked in casserole with peppers, oregano, feta cheese and squash in a Greek style take on Mac-n-Cheese. This is a great potluck dish for fall!

Ingredients

1 pound orzo
Salt to taste
2 large red peppers roasted and diced, or a mixture of peppers to equal 1 cup diced
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium zucchini, yellow crookneck or other elongated squash, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice or 2 pounds, seeded, skinned and diced plum tomatoes
4 firm, large garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces crumbled goat cheese
2 cups Greek yogurt (optional)
3 Tablespoons grated parmesan
3 Tablespoons, chopped parsley or fresh mint leaves

Method

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil, and add the orzo. Cook eight minutes, or until it is cooked through but still firm to the bite. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with the diced roasted pepper and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 4-quart baking dish. Heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, wide skillet. Add the squash or zucchini and cook — stirring and turning over the slices, until lightly cooked through and slightly brown on the edges, about five minutes. Place into the bowl with the orzo.

Return the pan to the heat, add the final 2 tablespoon of oil and the minced garlic. Cook just until fragrant, 20 to 30 seconds, and add the tomatoes and oregano. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly. Taste and adjust seasoning. Spoon hot tomato mixture into the bowl with the orzo, add the goat cheese, Greek yogurt (this is optional but will make the casserole extra creamy!) and mix everything together. Add freshly ground pepper to taste, and adjust salt. Transfer to the baking dish. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese on top.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is just beginning to color. Garnish with chopped parsley or fresh mint leaves. Serve hot or warm.

Thanks to Kristin Frost Albrecht for this recipe.

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