The Man and I have been busy bees here in Milos. Lots of wedding planning to do 🙂
I haven’t been cooking as much as I’d like, but that’s only because the restaurants on the island are so hard to resist!
A couple of days ago I spotted beautiful, first-of-the-season butternut squash. As you know, I’ve tussled with the local squash before but I decided to give it another go. This time, I was inspired by a risotto-like seafood dish the Man and I had in Sifnos that used orzo instead of rice. I choose to make it into a whole food plant-based meal by using butternut squash instead of seafood broth.
The result was an ultra-creamy, hearty and fine dish that the Man rated as “restaurant grade” – the highest praise he ever gives out. The recipe isn’t complicated at all, although you may want to get a head start by roasting the butternut squash ahead of time.
Makes 4 servings
- 250gr / 9oz wholewheat orzo
- 2 cups roasted butternut squash (see note below)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup onion, minced
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Note: To roast the butternut squash, cut a medium-sized squash lengthwise, seed it (keep the seeds to roast!) and place it cut-side down on a non-stick baking sheet. Roast in an oven pre-heated to 200°C/400°F until soft (use a sharp knife to pierce the squash, it’s ready when there’s almost no resistance left), about 40 minutes. Depending on the size of your squash, you’ll certainly end up with more than you need for this recipe. Use up the rest to make this gorgeous ginger-tinged soup or to try out this other, but completely different, creamy pasta recipe.
To roast the seeds, carefully wash and dry, then let them dry out on the counter for a few hours. Drizzle with a little oil, sprinkle with salt, and spread out on a baking sheet. Pop into an oven pre-heated at 150°C/300°F and roast for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until toasted.
Place the roasted butternut squash in a bowl and use a hand blender to blend until smooth. Add 1/2 cup of broth and blend until smooth. Repeat until you have added all of the broth. Watch out for splashing if you’re using hot broth. Set aside.
Put a large pan on medium-low heat. Add the olive oil, let warm, and then add the onion. Sweat until translucent and be careful not to let the onion brown.
Add garlic and stir. Let sweat until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Toss in the orzo and stir to mix well. Add 2-3 ladles of the butternut squash/broth mix and stir until completely mixed. Turn up the heat to medium-high. The mixture should start to bubble, but only lightly. No boiling! Stir often.
When the mixture starts to really stick to the bottom, and it has become very thick, it’s time to add more liquid.
Taste the orzo every once in a while to keep tabs on doneness. Don’t be afraid to turn down the heat if need be, remember, it should be bubbling away gently, not boiling.
Repeat until all of the liquid is used up and the orzo is cooked al dente. The volume of the orzo will have increased significantly. This process took me about 25 minutes.
Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.