Creamy Orzo and Chickpea Bake (from the Pantry)


serves 2-4

2 cups water

2 no-salt-added vegetable bouillon cubes

1 fresh rosemary sprig

1 cup orzo

1 15-oz can chickpeas

1 large jarred roasted red pepper (or freshly roasted, if preferred)

6 oz silken tofu (half an aseptic pack)

1/4 cup dry white wine

4 scallions

2 TBSP canola oil (or other neutral oil, but not olive oil [see Note])

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup frozen peas

Add water and bouillon cubes to a medium pot over high heat. Dissolve cubes and bring to a boil. Add rosemary sprig and orzo. Boil 9 minutes (or according to package directions), stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Do not drain. Discard rosemary sprig.

While the pasta cooks, heat oven to 375. Drain and rinse chickpeas in a sieve and set aside to let drain thoroughly. Chop pepper into small dice.

Next, prepare the sauce. Add tofu, wine, white and firm pale green portions of scallions (reserve tops for garnish or for another purpose), oil, thyme, oregano, salt, and black pepper to a food processor. Blend until smooth.

Add chickpeas, diced pepper, and frozen peas to the orzo pot. Stir to combine. Add sauce and mix thoroughly. Transfer contents to a  1 1/2-quart baking dish (shallow, app 8"x12") and bake 20 minutes. Let cool five minutes before serving. Garnish with sliced scallion tops, if desired.

[Note: food processors and immersion blenders can turn olive oil bitter. I found that to be true when processing this sauce with olive oil and had good results using canola oil instead.]