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Very Late Summer Pasta Bake

This is more of an improvisation than a recipe, which feels fitting for the very tail end of summer. I used what I had in my kitchen, and I didn’t do any measuring for this one, so here’s a rough sketch of the steps involved.

For one person, collect about 1/2 pint of late summer cherry tomatoes, maybe 3-4 oz orzo (I used what was left in the pasta box but it looked like a little less than 1/2 cup or so), 2 eggs, a small handful of flat-leaf parsely, some grated Parmesan and a dash of Chipotle Tabasco sauce or maybe some smoked paprika.

Cook the orzo but err on the side of quite al dente. Meanwhile, heat oven to about 325 – 350 F, halve the largish and medium cherry tomatoes and chop the parsley. In a small bowl, whisk the two eggs with the Tabasco/paprika, a bit of grated Parmesan and maybe some black pepper.Substitute any similar nutty, salty cheese if you don’t have Parmesan.

Find a small baking dish – I love my 6 oz oval stoneware one – and butter it. If there’s a bit of butter left over, use it for the orzo. Mix the orzo (drained and cooled a bit) with the chopped parsley in the baking dish; add in the tomatoes and stir together gently. Pour the whisked seasoned eggs evenly over the pasta and grate more Parmesan over the whole thing. Bake for about 15 – 18 minutes. Depending on your oven and how runny you like your eggs, check for doneness after about 12 minutes or so.

The oven roasting adds some darker depths to the tomatoes’ sweetness, and it all melds nicely thanks to the eggs that support the pasta while supplying an echo of smokiness from the Tabasco/paprika. Just don’t forget to wait a bit and let the dish cool down from the oven to avoid burning your mouth.

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