Prep 30 mins
Cook 30 mins
I added in about 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley into this dish, but that is optional. You can prepare the complete recipe, cover and refrigerate up to 1 day, to be baked later.
- 1 lb orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic (optional or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon dried basil (or to taste)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste, or use dried chili flakes to taste)
- 2 large celery ribs, chopped
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 (28 ounce) can plum tomatoes (with juice)
- 1 cup kalamata olive, pitted and sliced thin (or use canned sliced black olives, drained)
- salt and pepper
- 1⁄2 lb mozzarella cheese
- mozzarella cheese, for top (any amount desired)
- Set oven to 375 degrees (oven rack set to second-lowest position).
- Butter a 2-quart casserole dish (or use a larger size).
- Cook the orzo in a large pot of salted boiling water; drain well then transfer to a large bowl; toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
- In a skillet heat the oil and butter, then add in the onions, garlic, basil and cayenne; stir over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add in the chopped celery and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Stir in the 2 tablespoons flour; cook stirring with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes.
- Stir in the broth and tomatoes with juice breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon; simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes.
- Stir/add in the cooked orzo with the olives and about 3/4 cup mozzeralla cheese, season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the mixture to prepared baking dish.
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle with mozzeralla cheese (any amount desired) return to oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
This is a great and unusual side dish to feed a crowd. Everyone enjoyed this because it was a little different, especially the olives! I would recommend not using "whole" canned tomatoes though, next time I will use diced ones as I had trouble breaking up the whole ones in the simmering skillet.