This creamy orzo pasta with roasted butternut squash, kale, fresh sage and Parmesan cheese ticks all the boxes! Delicious, full of nutrients and an incredibly satisfying autumn favourite.
Serve it on its own as a filling vegetarian option or pair with my quick and easy Chicken Paillard in Sherry Caper Sauce.
We all know that pasta dishes are weeknight heros. They are quick to prepare and endlessly customizable. In other words, you’d be pressed hard to find someone who doesn’t love pasta.
Sadly they also have a reputation for being full of carbs and fat. While it’s difficult to argue the carb part, fat doesn’t have to be a dominant ingredients in your pasta recipes.
When paired with bold tasting, flavourful ingredients pastas become a healthy and substantial meal option. Let’s take this orzo pasta for example.
When I first made this vegetarian recipe I had to text my husband immediately to brag that something amazing is waiting for him at home. I believe my exact words were,” This orzo pasta is ridiculous. Sooooo tasty!”
What is orzo?
Orzo is tiny pasta despite its appearance. It looks like rice, doesn’t it? Orzo means “barley” in Italian but there is no actual barley in it, only shape resemblance. It’s made the same way any pasta is made.
Because orzo is so small it cooks in no time at all, and is amazing to use in soups and creamy one pot dishes like the one I am sharing today.
Is orzo healthy?
It all depends on what you put in it! Roasted Butternut Squash Orzo Pasta is delicious and so good for you. Not because of orzo itself but incredibly nutritious add-ons like squash and kale!
How do I cook orzo?
The same way you would pasta. Boil it in water until al dente.
What goes into Creamy Orzo Pasta with Butternut Squash?
The ingredient list is quite simple. Orzo pasta, shallots, garlic, sage, butternut squash, kale, vegetable stock and Parmesan cheese. You can also adjust it according to your own taste.
Kale can be easily substituted with spinach or Swiss chard.
You can also use various vegetables instead of butternut squash. Pumpkin and Broccoli are personal favourites!
How do I make creamy orzo pasta?
First of all, to make orzo creamy we need to stir it once in a while during cooking. The pasta will release its natural starch and will become creamy. I also added some freshly grated Parmesan cheese for extra creaminess and delicious flavour.
This one pot pasta is very much reminiscent of risotto but the method is slightly different.
While rice is added to a dry pan with stock being gradually poured in to make risotto. I found it important to add orzo to boiling water, or in my case boiling vegetable stock, in order to prevent it from sticking to the pan.
Once the orzo is cooked al dente, which only take about 7-8 minutes, stir in grated Parmesan cheese and top with roasted vegetables like butternut squash, pumpkin or broccoli.
Can I make orzo pasta ahead?
Like all pastas orzo is best when cooked fresh as it loses the al dente texture with time and becomes gummy with the overall dish texture too thick.
If planning ahead, I would recommend roasting butternut squash up to a day before serving. Then putting the whole dish together will not take longer than 20 minutes.
Favourite Vegetarian Dishes to Try:
- Mediterranean Pasta with Zucchini
- Mushroom Stroganoff
- Vegetarian Thai Green Curry
- Spaghetti alla Siciliana
- 2 tsbp olive oil, divided
- 1 butternut squash Large, approximately 2 lbs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 shallots
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 10 leaves sage, divided or 0.5 tsp dried sage
- 500g/4.5 cups orzo
- 1 litre +250ml/5 cups vegetable stock plus 0.5 cup if needed
- 100g/1cup kale, chopped I used cavolo nero
- 50g/3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Peel, de-seed and cut butternut squash into bite-sized cubes, season with salt, pepper and 1 tbsp of olive oil or low calorie spray. Arrange on a shallow pan, scatter 4-5 sage leaves throughout and roast at 200C/400F for 45 minutes or until golden.
- 20 minutes before the squash is done, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a deep pan and saute chopped shallots, garlic and remaining minced sage leaves over low heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add vegetables stock, salt and kale, bring to a boil, add orzo and cook according to package instructions for approximately 7-8 minutes until tender but al dente. Stir the orzo throughout the cooking process to release starch and to avoid it sticking to the bottom of a pan. If the mixture looks too thick add 1/2 cup of vegetable stock or water to maintain creamy, risotto like consistency. Take off the heat and stir in Parmesan cheese, salt to taste and top with roasted butternut squash.