Growing up in quite the Italian family, there was never a shortage of pasta at our house. From weeknight dinners to special occasions to backyard barbecues, you name it and it was there. While I don’t eat pasta quite as often these days, I do still absolutely love to play around with different flavors and combinations. This broccoli and bell pepper filled baked orzo is cheesy and comforting without being overly heavy, which is my preference this time of the year as the weather gets warmer and warmer.
In a way I feel like I am almost eating the rainbow with this dish. You have red and orange from the colored bell peppers, green from the broccoli and purple from the red onion! Making for one very pretty looking casserole.
While the orzo is cooking in a saucepan until al dente, the vegetables are sautéed with a touch of balsamic vinegar and honey, giving the dish a little something to make it interesting, without being overpowering.
Once cooked, the orzo is added to the skillet, along with a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, which help give the pasta just enough moisture so that it won't dry out while baking. Some shredded mild cheddar cheese is also added into the mix, which pairs wonderfully with the broccoli.
The mixture is then transferred to a baking dish, where it's topped with some mozzarella and then baked until warm and nicely melted. Now, if you have an oven-safe skillet you can use that here, skipping the step of transferring the pasta to a baking dish. And less dishes to wash is always a good thing in my book!
- 1 ½ cups dry orzo pasta
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small red onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium orange bell pepper sliced
- 1 medium red bell pepper sliced
- 3 cups chopped broccoli florets
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Chopped or chiffonade fresh basil, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a 2 to 3 quart baking dish with olive oil spray and set aside.
- Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add in the orzo and cook until al dente according to the package directions, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and honey until combined. Set aside.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add in the red onion and cook for about 2 minutes, until it starts to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add in the peppers, broccoli, salt, pepper and the balsamic honey mixture. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp tender. Turn off the heat.
- Add the cooked orzo, tomatoes and cheddar cheese to the skillet and stir until well combined. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, then sprinkle the top with the mozzarella.
- Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, until heated through and the cheese is melted. Garnish with the fresh basil before serving.