After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years—La Cuisine: the Cook’s Resource, in Alexandria, Virginia—Nancy Pollard now writes Kitchen Detail, a blog about food in all its aspects—recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food-related issues. She and her husband, the Wine Maniac, have recently moved to Italy.
COOKBOOKS specializing in meals artfully arranged on sheet pans started coming into fashion in the final years of our La Cuisine shop. From personal experience, the “before” images were a lot more appetizing than the “after” ones. We tried a few—with mixed results, to put it kindly. That said, even though the British author Rukmini Iyer is a little wobbly on thorough instructions, I have produced some really neat dishes from this particular book, one of them below and another the somewhat modified but stellar Taleggio Carrot Tart. The recipes are vegetarian and vegan-based, which of course made someone else here very nervous when he first saw me reading it. Iyer has another cookbook that includes recognizable protein, which I think I will purchase. Both of Rukmini Iyer’s books have been published in the US under the titles Vegetarian Dinner’s in the Oven and Dinner’s in the Oven.
Make this so-easy recipe in the late summer, when you have boxes of yellow, red, and green tomatoes, and also different shapes. The recipe also allows winter greenhouse cherry tomatoes to shine, especially with the addition of the bay leaves. So simple, so delicious. Add some Parmigiano shavings before serving for a little richer variation.
All-in-One Roasted Tomato & Bay Orzo With Black Pepper
- 7 ounces (200gr) orzo
- 1-2/3 cups (400ml) vegetable or chicken stock
- 14 ounces (400gr) cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ red onion, finely sliced into half moons
- 2 bay leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 to 3 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- A handful of basil leaves, torn, or roughly chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 375F (180C).
- Mix the orzo with the stock in a low-sided sheet pan or casserole about 9×12 inches (24x30cm).
- Scatter the tomato halves over the orzo mixture, then the onion slices.
- Insert a bay leaf at each end of the casserole, about an inch or two from each short side.
- Sprinkle with sea salt and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.
- Transfer to the oven and bake from 25 to 35 minutes.
- As soon as the pasta (orzo) is cooked (it should be al dente and should have absorbed most of the liquid), drizzle the olive oil across the top. (The author suggests stirring the olive oil through lightly, but I prefer it just drizzled across.)
- Remove the bay leaves.
- Taste and season accordingly and sprinkle across the basil leaves or parsley.
- Shave some Parmigiano along with the fresh basil right before serving for a more scrumptious version.