In this in-between season, with cool mornings, warm afternoons and that urge to cook that you haven’t had all summer, it’s fun to mix up your menus. This roasted tomato orzo from “Salad Feasts” by Jessica Elliott Dennison (Hardie Grant Books, $24.99) lets your oven do all the hard work. At 425 degrees, the heat gives fresh tomatoes a sticky, intensely sweet flavor that transforms the dish from a so-so pasta salad to a main dish-worthy dinner.
Dennison points out that, as with many roasted veggie dishes, the flavors in this recipe get even better with time, so you can make this ahead to serve later in the week or for lunches.
The recipe includes a homemade dukkah, a nut-and-spice mixture that adds a smoky, spiced crunch to the silky orzo. You can find dukkah in specialty grocery stores or retail outlets, such as Trader Joe’s. Use it on salads, eggs, pastas or with grilled meats and vegetables. Instead of thyme, you can use rosemary or oregano, and rather than orzo, feel free to use small pasta shells or a grain, such as spelt or freekeh.
— Addie Broyles
Roasted Tomato Orzo with Dukkah and Thyme
1 1/2 pounds ripe cherry tomatoes
Small bunch thyme, leaves only
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 large garlic cloves
10 1/2 ounces dried orzo
Handful flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
3 tablespoons dukkah (see below)
Heat oven to 425 and bring a medium pan of water to the boil. Slice the tomatoes, some in halves, some in quarters, then add to a large roasting pan in a single layer. Scatter over the thyme leaves and add the oil, salt, pepper, chile flakes (if using), cumin and garlic (leaving the skins on). Gently toss and roast for 15 minutes. Remove and reserve the garlic, then roast the tomatoes for 5 more minutes.
Meanwhile, boil the orzo in the pan of water over a medium heat for the time stated on the packet, around 8 to 10 minutes for al dente. Refresh under cold water to stop the pasta cooking, then drain completely. Roughly chop the parsley leaves.
To assemble, squeeze the roasted garlic flesh into the roasting tray. Using a fork, mash the garlic and half of the tomatoes into a chunky pulp. Add the cooked orzo into the tray, then zest in the lemon. Squeeze in the juice of half the lemon to taste; you may want to add more lemon depending on the acidity/sweetness of your tomatoes. Add the parsley and stir everything together, ensuring you scrape all the nice sticky bits off the bottom of the tray. Transfer to a large platter and scatter with the dukkah, if using, to finish. Serves 4.
You can buy this Middle Eastern blend of toasted almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and spices, or you can make it yourself. Scatter it over roasted vegetables, toast or eggs.
— Addie Broyles
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 ounces flaked almonds
1 ounce sunflower seeds
1 ounce sesame seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the peppercorns and cumin seeds for 1 minute, or until fragrant, then lightly crush in a pestle and mortar. Next, toast the almonds and sunflower seeds for 2 to 3 minutes until golden and add to the mortar. Toast the sesame seeds for 1 to 2 minutes until golden, and then stir in the coriander and paprika. Add to the mortar along with the oregano and salt. Crush the mixture, then tip into a jar and keep for 3 weeks. It does keep for even longer, but the spices begin to dull after 3 weeks.
— From “Salad Feasts: How to Assemble the Perfect Meal” by Jessica Elliott Dennison (Hardie Grant Books, $24.99)