This is one of those wonderful Ottolenghi comfort dishes and well worth making.
1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch dice
Salt and black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into fine dice
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/2 lb orzo pasta, rinsed
1 tsp tomato paste
13 fl oz vegetable stock (I used chicken)
3 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup hard mozzarella cheese, cut into dice
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tomatoes cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 tsp dried oregano
Preheat the oven to 350 F
Sprinkle the eggplant generously with salt and leave to drain in a colander for 30 minutes.
Rinse and pat dry.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the eggplant, cooking for 8 minutes on medium to high heat golden brown, stirring occasionally.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Add the carrot and celery, fry for 8 minutes and transfer to kitchen paper.
Lower the heat to medium, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.
Stir in the orzo and tomato paste and cook for 2 more minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the stock, fresh oregano and lemon zest. Add the cooked vegetables, mozzarella, parmesan, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
Mix well and transfer to a 9″ square baking dish or thereabouts.
Arrange the slices of tomatoes on top and sprinkle with oregano and season.
Bake for 40 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is cooked.
Remove, leave to settle for 5 minutes and serve hot