Lentils and Orzo

Here’s a hearty meal that can be meaty, vegetarian, or even vegan just by swapping out a couple of ingredients – and it’s simple to make! I used chicken broth and put a fried egg on top, but you could easily use vegetable broth or water and serve it sans egg. Or… really meat it up and add sausage or chicken chunks… or any number of clean-out-the-‘fridge-vegetables…

The concept comes from the NY Times Cooking section. Their recipe calls for topping the dish with cheese. I thought an egg was even better… It also called for coriander seed… I used a bit of ground coriander. It worked fine.

Lentils and Orzo

Lentils and Orzo with Roasted Eggplant

adapted from The NY Times

  • 1 1/2 pounds eggplant (2 small or 1 large, skin on, or peeled, if desired), chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 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
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon


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

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.

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.

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.

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

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the roasted eggplant pieces and a fried egg, if desired.

The entire dish is done in the time it takes to roast the eggplant, so it’s a definite weeknight-get-it-on-the-table-quick meal!