I call casseroles like this "all in one sides" because they have everything you need to complete your meal. Add some grilled chicken or fish to your plate and you're a happy camper. This one combines fresh fennel, orzo, grape tomatoes and olives for a Mediterranean slant. —inpatskitchen
4 to 6 side servings
large fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch pieces (save the fronds!)
grape tomatoes, halved
small to medium onion, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
cloves minced garlic
Kalamata olives, halved
extra virgin olive oil
ground fennel seed
1 1/2 cups dry orzo
Chicken or vegetable broth for cooking the orzo
minced fennel fronds
finely grated Parmesan or Kashkaval cheese
Additional extra virgin olive oil for drizzling over the about to be baked casserole
Toss the fennel, tomatoes, onions, olives and garlic in the 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the salt, pepper, oregano, basil and fennel powder and toss again. Place the mixture in an even layer of a 9x13 inch baking dish and roast for 20 to 25 minutes at 425F until you see the fennel just browning a bit and the tomatoes softening. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In the meantime, cook the orzo in the chicken or vegetable broth per package instructions. Drain, reserving about a cup of the broth.
Combine the orzo and roasted vegetables. At this point you may want to add some of the reserved broth. You want the mixture loose but not "watery". Stir in the fennel fronds and pour the mix into a smallish baking dish. (I used a 10 inch round)
Combine the cheese and panko and sprinkle this over the casserole. Drizzle the top with a little of the extra virgin olive oil.
Bake at 400F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cheese and panko brown a bit. Serve nice and warm!
I think I get my love for food and cooking from my mom, who was an amazing cook. She would start baking and freezing a month before Christmas in order to host our huge open house on Christmas afternoon. I watched and I learned...to this day I try not to procrastinate when it comes to entertaining.
My cooking style is pretty much all over the place, although I'm definitely partial to Greek and Italian cuisine. Oh yes, throw a little Cajun in there too!