I just couldn't wait to tell you all about tonight's dinner. It was such a success!
It was one of those dishes that starts smelling wonderful and continues to get better and better the more of its ingredients you add. Just so with this Bake.
Now I'd seen Orzo in various recipes on t'internet and got curious about what it was. So that led me to discovering that it was a particular type of pasta-like carbohydrate, shaped like tiny grains of rice. Curious! As is my wont, I'd "tucked it behind my ear for later" and kept an eye out for it in the shops, along with dozens of other things. It just so happened that while I was browsing the World Foods aisle in our local supermarket, amongst all the other noodles and tiny pastas, there it was - Orzo! Now I knew where I could get it, all I had to do was find a recipe that looked delicious enough to warrant its use.
So along came "Greek Lamb & Orzo Bake". I found the recipe in a general type of cookbook that I borrowed from the Library. I had taken two or three recipes from it, but on the whole it was a book that I wouldn't bother taking out again. However, I am so glad I found it in the first place, or I would never have discovered how well this collection of ingredients could shape up!
I was amused, when cooking the Orzo, to discover how slippery they can be! The first time I tasted some (to work out whether they were soft enough to be included in the casserole) I took four or five of them into my mouth and bit down - only to have two of the little devils shoot out from between my lips and disappear into the farthest reaches of the kitchen! They're like tiny torpedoes.
The mince mixture, as you combine each ingredient, tastes rather gorgeous right up until you include the chopped mint - whereupon it is just lifted somewhere up into the stratosphere. Now we all know that mint and lamb are a match made in heaven - but my goodness, doesn't this recipe just demonstrate this!
Son was, initially, a teeny bit challenged by the Aubergine pieces. Right up until I told him that they were just sponges full of the tasty gravy. That encouraged him to stop picking them out and eat them instead. Hubby loved the whole thing and, like me, wondered about including a little Feta cheese in the yoghurt/egg mixture. Son was appalled by that idea, saying it would render the mix too sour. He may have a point there - but I think it's rather worth trying!
Edited to say that I included the Greek Lamb & Orzo dish on the menu list again, in April 2011.
This time, I used two eggs in the yoghurt/egg mixture which covered rather better - and I left it in the oven to brown a little more.
You'll see how lovely it looked when it came out of the oven from the picture here.
I can confirm that it was no less tasty, with lots of "mmmnn's" and much eye-rolling of appreciation as the first forkfulls went in.
As you can see, this time I served it with baby corn and sugar snap peas, which were lovely.
It may look as though it has the possibility of being a little dry, but in fact the tomato sauce is just hiding under there. We didn't require anything more than a little butter on the vegetables, to make a perfect meal.
GREEK LAMB & ORZO BAKE (serves 5)
500g lean minced lamb
1 onion finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 aubergine, cut into 1cm chunks
200ml lamb or vegetable stock
400g tin chopped tomatoes
15g fresh mint, chopped
300g natural low-fat yoghurt
1 large egg
salt & pepper
half a tsp sugar
Brown the lamb in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and remove the fat once it has rendered.
Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft. Then add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Then add the aubergine pieces and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the aubergine is tender.
Stir in the stock, tomatoes and the mint. Season -including a little sugar if the tomatoes need it - and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the lamb is tender.
Preheat the oven to 180deg C/gas 4.
Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to manufacturers’ instructions, until al dente. Drain.
Beat together the yoghurt and egg in a small bowl.
Stir the drained pasta into the lamb mixture, then spoon into a large lasagne dish. Spoon the yoghurt mixture over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes until piping hot.
Serve with green beans & baby corn, or for summer dining, a green bean salad with a fresh lemony dressing.