Butternut Squash Orzotto | Mizuna | Orange
Right after the summer is over, I know fall is coming when I see gourds pop up all over the farmer’s market. Even though we were still getting some zucchini in our CSA, we got spaghetti squash one week. Then an acorn squash. Then a pumpkin. And a butternut squash – my favorite! These winter squashes are foods I look forward to when the leaves change color and the weather cools down.
When I got my first one, I just cut a little piece off and ate it raw. The local butternut was so crunchy and sweet, I couldn’t help but take a few more bites. I roasted the rest of it in the oven and once it came out all golden brown and caramelized, I just dug right in with a fork – on the roasting pan, not even bothering with getting a plate. It was the taste of fall. And even though I might get sick of squash by January, right now, I’m eating it in any way I can!
I made this dish on Sunday, while watching football with my best friend. We got a little crazy over homecoming weekend at Vandy and were just chilling out that afternoon. It was beautiful and sunny outside – perhaps the perfect weather for a Sunday. There are a few weeks of fall where I can’t imagine the world looking any better.
Sometimes, I just look outside and am mesmerized by the transformation. I know the cold winter is coming, but before then, I take some time to appreciate what’s in front of me. Right here and now.
I’ve been making orzotto for a while now – I even made that one with creamy brie and roasted cauliflower. I should, at some point, buy some arborio rice, but to be honest, I love this version with orzo – it even cooks a lot faster, which means I get to eat sooner. That always seems to help after a tiring weekend.
This recipe has onions cooked down with rosemary, to which you add cubed butternut squash. Orzo is added to the pan and you slowly add chicken stock or vegetable stock to release the starch, resulting in that luxurious, creamy texture that is so characteristic of risotto. A little orange zest on top makes all the flavors pop. The crunchy mizuna lettuce, which I picked up from the market, has a slight bitterness to it which really adds a great dimension to this dish. And the cheese – oh the cheese – which is put in with a heavy hand. It’s great as a main course on a lazy day, or as a side to a beautiful roast or braised meat.
Just take some time to make a great meal – and to enjoy what’s outside. It’s sure to be an amazing moment.
Butternut Squash Orzotto (serves 4)
Recipe courtesy of Vivek Surti
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups of chicken (or vegetable) stock, simmering
1/2 cup grated parmigiano cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 orange, zested
a few springs of mizuna greens (or arugula)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Get a big (12 inch) saute pan over medium heat and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the onions until they are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the butternut squash and season everything with salt and pepper. Once the squash starts to soften just slightly, about 2 minutes, add the orzo pasta and toss it around to get it coated with all the vegetables. Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until all the liquid is evaporated. Then, add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, until all the stock is absorbed by the pasta. Constantly stir. You may or may not use all of the stock. Keep tasting the pasta, but it should be cooked, perfectly al dente around the 10-12 minute mark. By that time, your butternut squash should also be perfectly cooked and tender.
To finish the orzotto, add a half ladle of stock, all the cheese, and the butter. Stir the risotto vigorously until the butter melts and the texture of the risotto is just barely runny. It should spread when you put it on a plate, in between being runny and stiff. Garnish the plate with some orange zest, a few sprigs of mizuna, and a nice healthy glug of your best olive oil.
It was so good, I was eating this thing while taking the pictures.