Roasted Butternut Squash Orzo Recipe

Roasted Butternut Squash Orzo Recipe Recipe

This orzo pasta dish can either appeal to a vegetarian as a main course or to others as an accompaniment for the meat or fish course of the meal. And the ingredients make it perfect for Thanksgiving.

To make the dish, I simply roasted a butternut squash, mixed in cooked orzo pasta and added a wide range of vegetables such as carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and string beans, as well as pan-fried tofu cubes for extra protein and dried cranberries to bring home the autumn-theme of the meal.

This sweet and tart side dish can easily be prepared in advance. All you have to keep in mind is to cut all the ingredients the same size for a homogeneous texture. I also tried selecting various colors to make the dish look appealing. 

Ingredients

Yields: 10 servings

2½ cups orzo pasta
1 butternut squash
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, as needed
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 red bell peppers
2 small carrots, peeled, shredded and cut int 1"-pieces
2 cups fried tofu, cut into cubes
5 marinated artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
12 ounces string beans
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon


Directions

For the sauce Use a sealable container (like a mustard jar previously washed with hot soapy water). In this order, combine the sugar, mustard, vinegar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and olive oil in the container. Seal the container and shake until emulsified. Mix well. Set aside.

Prepping the butternut squash: 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Trim, peel and cut the butternut squash into cubes. Remove the seeds and the strings (if any). Place the cubes of butternut squash on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and black pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes. Let cool, dice the butternut squash and set aside.


For the orzo pasta: 

Bring about 8 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the pasta will cook evenly all the way through. Cook the pasta for about 12 minutes total. Salt the water half-way through the cooking process, add some olive oil (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and it will be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so that the pasta does not stick to the bottom. It may take longer than the cooking time shown on the box.

When the pasta is cooked (cooked inside and out but still in shape and firm), drain it (do NOT rinse). Transfer the cooked pasta to a bowl. Add the remaining lemon juice and zest. Season with ½ teaspoon of salt. Let the pasta cool to room temperature. Add the rest of the honey vinaigrette. Mix well. Let stand at room temperature until the rest of the ingredients are ready.

For the string beans: Wash the green beans. Cook them for about 2-3 minutes in boiling water. Transfer into an ice bath. Drain thoroughly and pat dry on a paper towel. Trim the beans and cut into cut into ½ pieces.

For the bell peppers: Wash the bell peppers; pat dry and brush with oil. Place a grill on your stove and char all the skin of the peppers. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Unwrap and wash under running water; the skin will come right off. Seed and dice the bell peppers. Season with salt and pepper.


Assembly:

In a large pan, heat the vegetable oil. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Combine all the ingredients except the orzo and sauce. Toss well. Season with the remaining salt and pepper. Finally, add the orzo pasta and drizzle with the sauce. Toss well.

Serve warm. 

Bon appétit!


Tips

The key to a good orzo salad is to have a homogeneous mixture. All the ingridients should be the same size. I cut everything into ½-inch pieces. 

You've probably noticed I use a lot of roasted bell peppers in my cooking. I usually roast 2-3 bell peppers at a time. I sprinkle some salt on the roasted bell peppers, place them in a jar and fill it up with pure olive oil. Stored in the refrigerator, they can be kept up to a week. The olive oil will become cloudy in the refrigerator but will regain its regular clarity when brought back to room temperature.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on November 14, 2013.


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