I realize that many people avoid using the oven in warm weather, but I have a couple of quick sheet pan meals that make using the oven completely worth the extra summer heat.
In this dish, the pasta even cooks in the oven! It was super creamy as a result. The roasted lemon added incredible brightness. This recipe is from Meatless Sheet Pan Suppers: 100 Surprising Vegetarian Meals Straight from the Oven by Raquel Pelzel. The cheese can be omitted for a vegan version. Delicious!
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
- 1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 medium-size lemon, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed
- 3 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 16 oz orzo pasta
- 3 3/4 cups boiling water
- 1/4 cup basil leaves, stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced crosswise into ribbons
- 6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, roughly torn by hand
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, place a sheet pan on the rack, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
- Place the tomatoes, lemon, garlic, 1 tsp salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and the olive oil in a medium-size bowl and toss to combine.
- Carefully turn the tomato mixture out onto the heated sheet pan, spread it in an even layer, and roast for 10 minutes.
- Remove the sheet pan from the oven and stir the vermouth into the tomato mixture.
- Using a spatula, press down on the tomatoes and lemon slices to extract their juices.
- Stir in the orzo.
- Pull the oven rack partway out of the oven and place the sheet pan on it. Carefully pour the boiling water into the orzo, stirring to combine and distribute evenly.
- Wearing oven mitts, cover the sheet pan with aluminum foil (you may need 2 sheets), crimping it tightly around the edges to seal. Bake the pasta for 15 minutes.
- Uncover the pan, add the remaining 1 tsp salt, stir, and cook, uncovered, to allow the juices to thicken and any partially cooked pasta from the top layer to absorb more liquid, about 5 minutes more.
- Preheat the broiler to high.
- Stir most of the basil into the pasta, then scatter the mozzarella cheese over the top. Sprinkle the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over the mozzarella and broil until the cheese is melted and golden, 3 to 5 minutes more. Watch carefully!
- Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes.
- Sprinkle the remaining basil over the top just before serving.