I love this recipe as it somehow manages to incorporate all of my favourite ingredients. It’s an orzo tray bake whilst also being a halloumi tray bake, with the added bonus of mediterranean roasted vegetables. One of the best things about vegetable tray bakes is that you can sit back and let the oven do all of the work for you; this recipe takes it one step further by incorporating baked orzo within the same tray, minimising effort and maximising flavour. You couldn’t find a more healthy orzo recipe- by cooking orzo within the vegetables, we’re incorporating all of the nutrients within the veggies, within the sauce. There’s also about 3 handfuls of vegetables per serving for this recipe which we love to see. The oregano adds a greek vibe to this recipe, which is why I originally called this recipe ‘Roasted Greek Salad’ (with courgette as the substitute for cucumber of course).
The Mediterranean vegetables that act as the backbone to this recipe. The tray bake has big greek salad vibes, with the courgette acting as the substitute to cucumber – I don’t think I’ll ever make you roast a cucumber.
Keeping the Greek influence with our pasta choice here.
The salty, flavour power-house that is pan-fried halloumi is of course our cheese of choice for this orzo tray bake.
Salty flavour bombs scattered throughout the recipe.
The squeeze of lemon juice really adds brightness and a taste of summer to this warming tray bake.
Yes, you can make this dish completely hob-free by adding the halloumi into the tray to bake along with the orzo. I do prefer the texture that you get with pan-fried halloumi though which is why I’ve kept it cooked separately in this recipe. When you bake halloumi it is slightly tougher and chewier than pan-fried halloumi.
Halloumi is high in calcium and protein. However, it is also very high in fat. That is why in this recipe we are using one block of halloumi for 5 servings, slicing the cheese into small/thin squares which means that for every serving you get quite a few pieces of halloumi. We’re also not using too much oil, as we’re frying in a non-stick pan and almost grilling the cheese.
We’re cooking this vegetable tray bake in two stages: 1) to roast the veggies and 2) to bake the orzo along with the veggies. We want the veggies to take on as much colour and char as possible during the first stage of cooking, so I’ve chosen a higher heat than I usually would for roasting mediterranean vegetables at 180°C. Usually I’d roast veggies for longer on a lower heat but this recipe is unique with the baked orzo element!
Orzo is rice shaped pasta. Sounds confusing right? Due to its shape, many people think that orzo is a form of rice but it’s actually made from semolina which comes from durum wheat. Usually orzo is cooked through boiling in salted water but with this recipe we’re taking some shortcuts and cooking the orzo within stock IN the tray (=less washing up/mess/effort/more flavour). The starch in the orzo thickens the stock to form a delicious, veggie packed, oregano infused orzo tray bake.
Heat oven gas mark 180°C.
Using a large baking tray, add the chopped tomatoes, courgette and onion. Add 2 tbsp olive oil and season with the oregano and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Stir with a spatula to ensure everything is evenly coated with oil and then pop in the oven, timer set to 25 minutes.
Once the timer goes off, remove the tray from oven and scatter the orzo into the baking tray with the roasted veg. Pour the vegetable stock into the baking tray and, using the spoon, ensure that all the orzo is submerged.
Add the kalamata olives at this stage as well before covering with foil and popping back in the oven for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the halloumi slices on a medium heat with ½ tbsp of olive oil. One the halloumi slices are golden brown on both sides (approx 2-3 mins per side), set aside to add to tray.
After the orzo is fully cooked remove the foil, drizzle with red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. Top with halloumi, some lemon wedges and serve.
Can I use a different pasta shape instead of orzo?
Yes of course! You could use fusilli, macaroni, spirali, whatever you prefer. Just ensure that the pasta is submerged in the stock before popping in the oven and stirring halfway through.
How do I meal-prep this recipe/ how do I reheat it?
This recipe is perfect for meal prep, just divide the finished product into 5 meal prep containers and when it’s time to eat, add a splash of water (around 1 tbsp) and reheat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. The pan-fried halloumi will be slightly less crispy when reheated but it’ll still taste dreamy. Serve with a pinch of salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.