Zucchini Orzo Pie - Baked with Pure Love

It may have taken me a year of promising you this "pie" mentioned in my About page, but finally here is the recipe that was the genesis of my 'something from nothing' style.  It was hatched oh so long ago when my sister, Jill, needed help using up a boat load of zucchini that was given to her.  When I use the term boat load, I don't feel it to be an exaggeration.  The fact that we made zucchini bread, muffins, fried zucchini, you name it, yet when all was said and done we STILL had zucchini spilling over. Thus began the search for what else can we toss together to cook the zucchs up before they went belly up.  I started rummaging through her refrigerator and cupboards in hopes to find inspiration.  Mind you, my sis did not use fresh herbs or have an abundance of fresh items from which to select.  My search turned up the following:
A box of orzo, canned chicken stock, grape tomatoes,  frozen pie crust and mozzarella, plus the usual suspects, salt, pepper, garlic, dried oregano and oil. (Thank goodness for the oregano!)

Ingredients

1/2 box Orzo  (6 oz)
1 deep dish Frozen pie crust
1.5 c grape, cherry or your favorite tomatoes  
1 - 1.5 c Mozzarella, shredded
2-3 cloves, garlic, finely chopped
3 qts Chicken or Vegetable stock, you can also use water
salt, pepper to taste
1/2 t dried oregano
pinch red pepper flakes, optional
Olive oil
and of course, ZUCCHINI (2-3 medium, cubed)

Sure, I could have just made a pasta salad I guess, but I was feeling creative, adventurous and let's face it the universe was providing me with a golden nugget that would materialize 20 years later. 

Instructions

In a 350 degree oven, blind bake the crust, dotting with a fork the sides and bottom so it doesn't bubble up. Cut up the zucchini and tomatoes and grate the cheese and set them aside.

Sauté the zucchini in garlic and olive oil. Add salt, pepper, dried oregano and cook until tender. That's right, dried oregano because that was the only kind of herb my sister had in her house.  


Once the zucchini is cooked add the chicken or vegetable stock and the orzo. Cooking it together like this really help the flavors to cozy up and get to know one another nicely. Once all the liquid is absorbed and the orzo is tender, spoon it into the pie crust.  

 

 Cooking the zucchini first then adding the stock and orzo let all the flavors meld together.

Cooking the zucchini first then adding the stock and orzo let all the flavors meld together.

 Fill 'em up.

Fill 'em up.

Top with the chopped tomatoes and the shredded mozzarella.  

 Top each pie with tomatoes and cheese.

Top each pie with tomatoes and cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree until the cheese is nice and bubbly.  Let cool slightly before slicing it up.

I will admit to you that after that "experimental" day years back, I never made that pie again.  Not because it wasn't good, but it was created to solve the problem of the moment;  too much zucchini. Since that problem didn't arise again, plus add the fact I could never eat an entire pie on my own, I thought the recipe was a one off.  Jokes on me, since much to my surprise, my sister Jill, recently told that she has been making it regularly ever since. Her girls LOVE it and they make it together all the time.  And since her husband loves this too she has to make two at time since they disappear so quickly.  Even her girls' friends have come to love the 'zucchini pie'.

So in honor of our first making of this pie, my sister and I embarked on making it together again for the photos on this post.  What a joy to recreate this with her and two of her daughters.  And full disclosure.  Since I haven't made this pie in YEARS, I had to rely on Jill for measurements and instructions.  This gives her a good giggle since the tables were completely turned with me asking HER for info.  That said, I am tickled pink that she still makes it but the icing on this pie is that it is a hit with her family and has become a tradition.  

Please remember, this is a rustic pie but one that can fill up your family in a pinch.  Serve it up for a lunch or dinner with salad or veggies on the side.  As with most of my recipes, swap out for what you have.  Here are some ideas.

Orzo = Israeli couscous, Pastina, Arborio rice
Zucchini = summer squash, spinach, escarole, eggplant... well any vegetable really
Mozzarella = Fontina, goat cheese, feta, 
The possibilities are abundant, so enjoy your rustic pie anyway you like.