Lentil & Orzo Stew

Serendipity led us to last night’s scrumptious vegetarian dinner. On Friday, my husband sent me a recipe by Yewande Komolafe he found in The New York Times for a lentil and orzo stew with roasted eggplant. Little did he know that, just the day before, I had already chosen the very same dish for a future post.

Given the recent dank and dreary weather, atypical for San Diego, the stew was the perfect entree: earthy lentils, slowly simmered with aromatic vegetables and orzo, brightened by finishing with the juice and zest of lemon, and then topped with meaty chunks of eggplant roasted with warm and citrusy coriander. A few shavings of salty ricotta salata or even some crumbled feta completes the dish.

Not having coriander seeds on hand, I was forced to use ground, which may have diminished the impact of the spice. The next time I make the dish, I’ll use the seeds and probably substitute crumbled feta for the ricotta salata, which would, I believe, add a touch of creaminess to the stew.

Lentil and Orzo Stew With Roasted Eggplant from The New York Times


1 ½ pounds eggplant (2 small or 1 large, skin on, or peeled, if desired), chopped into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dried lentils (green, black or brown)
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water
½ cup orzo or other small pasta, such as ditalini, stelline or macaroni
Zest and juice from 1 lemon, plus 4 lemon wedges for garnish
¼ cup shaved ricotta salata or crumbled feta

1) Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1/4 cup olive oil and crushed coriander seeds until coated; season with salt and pepper.

Spiced eggplant

2) Arrange in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast until eggplant is tender and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, giving the baking sheet a shake halfway through roasting to toss the eggplant pieces for even cooking.

Eggplant Roasted

3) In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium. Add the carrot, onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.

Sweated aromatics

4) Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste begins to darken on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.

The darkened tomato paste

5) Stir in the lentils until coated. Pour in stock or water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type and age of lentils you use.

Coating the lentils
Adding the stock

6) Stir in the orzo and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice.

After cooking with the orzo
Finishing with lemon juice & zest

7) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the roasted eggplant pieces and large shavings of ricotta salata, and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.

The plated stew


Wine Pairing: Syrah

4 thoughts on “Lentil & Orzo Stew

  1. Hmm, may have to give this ago. The ricotta salata gives this a sense of Pasta Norma! I might crack a Nero d’avola no?

    1. It’s well worth it, John. I agree that the Nero would make a great pairing. The roastig of the eggplant may take a little more time than the recipe says.

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