Pantry Makeover

By definition, neither my husband nor myself have Type A personalities. In most situations I’d consider this to be a positive thing; however, when it comes to home improvements or keeping things organized and orderly, often times we let these fall by the wayside. And this is definitely NOT a good thing. Finally, one of us will get totally fed up, and it will spark us into action. That’s what happened this past weekend when we got motivated to cross some things off our list, one of them being to organize our pantry.

Our pantry has large shelves, which are long and deep, allowing for a lot of storage with little functionality. Since we moved into our house, miscellaneous food items have been piling up in front of one another, leaving many items to be forgotten or missing. We couldn’t go another day with our pantry like this, so we headed to The Container Store for some corralling solutions! We ended up with two different sized bins that pull out on tracks, which meant we could group related food items together. I also moved my cookbooks to a different shelf, which gives me easier access and better visibility. After being so pleased with our new-found organization, I’m starting to think a Type A personality wouldn’t be so bad! I so so so wish I would have taken a “before” picture, just so you could have seen the caos that we eliminated.

While my husband installed the shelves, I watched from afar as I made Orzo with Roasted Vegetables for dinner. This recipe came highly recommended by my friend, so I quickly put it to the top of my “Must Make” recipe list. The vegetarian dish has so many great elements to it, that each bite offers something exciting. From the roasted peppers, onions, and eggplant, to the feta and toasted pine nuts, to the lemon vinaigrette that pulls it all together, its one of those dishes that you can’t wait to eat again the next day for lunch! The meal was ready just in time to take a break from our new-found love for organizing the pantry.

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Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

Source: Ina Garten

What You Need

  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
  • 1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound orzo or rice-shaped pasta
  • For the dressing:
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • To assemble:
  • 4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3/4 pound good feta, 1/2-inch diced or crumbled
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne

What To Do

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.
  4. For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pignolis, feta, and basil. Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

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