Sunday, January 20, 2013

Baked Orzo with Spinach, Bacon and Feta

This could be breakfast, or a gloriously comforting dinner on a cold foggy night. We opted for the latter, mainly because it was cold and foggy, and I had all these ingredients ready to go for dinner in front of the fire watching a movie. Nice.... sigh.

I lifted this recipe from my newest Food & WIne magazine, Feb 2013.  
It was called "Custardy Baked Orzo with Spinach, Bacon and Feta". 
I loved the sound of it, except that "custardy" part...
I mean, really, it sounds kind of Ewww.
Except this dish is anything BUT ewww. It is SO good.

I didn't set out to change this recipe, it caught my eye specifically because I almost always have these ingredients hanging around.Or thought I did...
I buy eggs in the two dozen pack (times two) at Costco.  We almost always have tons of eggs on hand. Uh oh, except tonight. 
Oh, and milk, we don't drink much milk... but frankly I was amazed that Christmas was so long ago.  Can you say past pull date of Jan 5th?  Ick.... 

Oh well, I made some changes to the recipe, and would encourage you to make changes too.

Don't have any milk?  Use extra yogurt.
Don't have 4 eggs? Use 3 eggs.
Don't have leeks?  Use green onions or white diced onions. 
Don't have bacon? Use ham.
   Vegetarian?  Leave out all the meat...
Don't like spinach? Use kale, or mushrooms.
Don't have orzo pasta?  Use broken up spaghetti or some other small pasta.
Feta... personally, I think you need feta in everything, but maybe it would be good with whatever cheese you have on hand.
Really, this dish is so yummy.  

Serves 4-6

 Salt for water
 1 cup orzo
 8 to 12 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces*
 1 1/2 pounds leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
 10 ounces baby spinach
 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
 Freshly ground pepper
 4 large eggs
 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
 1/2 cup milk

 Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the orzo until al dente. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until browned, 8 minutes. Add the leeks and cook until tender, 8 minutes. Add the leek mixture to the orzo, leaving 1 tablespoon of fat in the skillet. Add the spinach to the skillet and cook until wilted; transfer to a colander and press out the excess liquid. Add the spinach to the orzo, fold in the feta and season with pepper.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the yogurt and milk, season with pepper and stir into the orzo. Scrape the mixture into an oiled 12-by-8-inch baking dish and bake for about 45 minutes, until the eggs are set and the top is browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
*I used only 1/2 lb of bacon of regular thickness in this dish, 3/4 of a lb sounded like a bit too much to me!

I also did two small baking dishes (4x6) and two individual ramekins, and baked it about 35 minutes.

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