Layered Orzo, Pesto and Pepper Bake

Circle B Kitchen

The original recipe calls for rice, but I substituted orzo, which we loved. But I may try using a short-grained brown rice next time around.

3 cups cooked orzo or rice

1 3/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese (divided use)

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup prepared basil pesto sauce (divided use)

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese (divided use)

10 ounces roasted red peppers (drain, pat dry and chop) (divided use)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine rice, 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Spray a 7-inch-diameter souffle dish or springform pan with non-stick vegetable spray.

Place 1/2 of rice mixture in bottom of prepared dish or pan. Pat down well. Spread 1/2 of pesto evenly over rice and sprinkle with 1/2 of goat cheese. Layer 1/2 of red peppers over goat cheese. Repeat above layers. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over top. Bake 12 to 15 minutes in preheated oven. Cut into wedges to serve.

Makes 6 servings

Basil Pesto

3-3/4 oz. (5 cups packed) fresh basil leaves

1/4 oz. (1/4 cup) pine nuts

1 large clove garlic, peeled

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 to 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more for storing

1 oz. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup from a box grater; 1 cup from a rasp grater)

Pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the feed tube and process, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mixture forms a thick paste. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the Parmigiano. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

Makes about 1 to 1 1/2 cups