Prep Time:            20 minutes
Roasting Time:    45 minutes
Assembly Time:    10 minutes
Serves:                      8-10 (recipe can be doubled)

From Helen’s cookbook – “Feed Your Body and Soul: Mostly Gluten Free Recipes with Inspirations”. This is a great side dish for a large crowd or a light luncheon.

¼ C toasted pine nuts
1 small eggplant, cut into bite size pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
1 small – medium red onion, cut into bite size pieces
8oz of either red or yellow, small sugar tomatoes
2-3 minced cloves of garlic
1/3 C olive oil
1 ½ t kosher salt
½ t freshly ground black pepper
½ lb orzo pasta or gluten free elbow noodles (½ lb is half of a standard size box)
2-4 minced scallions (use white and green parts)
½ – ¾ lb crumbled feta cheese
small hand full of fresh basil leaves (about 10-15 leaves cut into thin strips)

Mix together in a bowl the following ingredients and set aside.

1/3 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
½ C olive oil
1 t kosher salt
½ t freshly ground black pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 375 dgrees. Place pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the heated oven for about 2-3 minutes until golden brown.  Watch carefully for doneness; pine nuts burn very easily. Set toasted pine nuts aside.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss eggplant, bell peppers, onion and minced garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper to coat well.  Place the vegetables in a single layer on large baking sheet.  Roast about 20 minutes, turn, and roast another 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are browned.

Time the cooking of the orzo (or pasta) to finish just before the roasted vegetables.  You want the pasta to be warm when mixing to better absorb the dressing.  Make the pasta according to the package instructions, drain and rinse briefly with warm water, put in a large bowl.

To assemble, add the roasted vegetables and tomatoes with the pan drippings to the pasta.  Pour the dressing over the mixture and blend.  Let cool to room temperature.

Before serving, top with pine nuts, scallions, cheese and basil.  Serve at room temperature.

Variation – substitute or add other vegetables to roast, such as summer squash, zucchini, portabella mushrooms, asparagus. For protein you can add cooked shrimp or chicken.

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