Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella

Have you fallen in love with Smitten Kitchen's blog?  The food always looks amazing, and the photographs are to die for.  This was my first attempt at a recipe, despite pinning a bunch of them to try.
But I don't know why.  I've never cooked an eggplant before.  Actually, I think I've only had eggplant on pizza and couldn't even really tell you whether I like it or not.  So why this recipe?  No idea, kids.  No idea.

But the recipe looked like how I cook- mix everything together and go.  I love veggies mixed into my meal rather than on the side.  And mozzarella.  Oh, maybe that's why I made this.  I had a bunch of mozzarella in my fridge and figured all I needed to get for this meal was the eggplant.  Interesting.
So I diced up the eggplant.  She says to sprinkle it generously with salt, sit it in a colander in the sink and let it drain for 30 minutes.  This ensures your pasta isn't watered-down and gross from all the liquid in the eggplant.  Smart.
While it's draining, dice up the rest of your veggies, zest your lemon...you know, just generally take advantage of the 30 minutes of downtime!
Rinse your eggplant, then saute it up and sit it on a paper towel to absorb more liquid.
Saute your veggies.  I forgot to saute the carrots and celery before adding in the onion, so they didn't get as soft as I'd like, but ah well.  Throw some garlic in there, garlic makes everything better.
Let em get nice and soft(er) and full of flavor.  Then add the tomato paste!
Mix in your orzo, and then add the eggplant.
Add your tomatoes too.
Some lemon zest and spices.
Mozzarella and broth.
Stirrrr it all up.  Try not to spill it everywhere (inevitable for me).
Then put everything in a baking dish.
And bake!  The cheese gets all melty, and all the flavors meld and it becomes amazing- comfort food but still feels healthy and not completely dense.
Mmmm, mozzarella.
Now you should go to the real recipe and amazing pictures over on Smitten Kitchen.  It will make my blog look so freakin amateur, but what can ya do.  At least you know that if I can make this amazing dinner, you can!

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