This cheesy butternut orzo is Autumn in a bowl! Cooked on the stove like a risotto & packed full of roasted squash, crispy sage & nutty parmesan.

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cheesy butternut orzo

This risotto style orzo is super creamy & packed full of nutty parmesan cheese, roasted butternut squash & crispy sage. Great eaten on its’ own or served with grilled chicken or some pan fried fish.

What Is Orzo?

A rice shaped pasta, orzo is made from durum wheat & is traditionally used for soups, salads & pilaf rice. Orzo also works incredibly well when served in rich pasta sauces or cooked risotto style.

orzo risotto

Ingredients For Cheesy Butternut Orzo

Orzo

It may look like a grain but orzo is actually a type of pasta, made from durum wheat. There’s several ways to cook orzo & it is best served al dente.

Butternut Squash

We’re cooking butternut squash two different ways for this recipe. Roasted & fried.
The roasted squash is blitzed up with veg stock & is what we’re using to cook the orzo in. The fried stuff is cooked with the onion & garlic for our risotto & adds an extra layer of flavour.

Onion & Garlic

As we’re cooking our orzo like a risotto, it needs plenty of fried onion & garlic. This adds another layer of flavour that we wouldn’t get if we were to cook the pasta in just water. If you wanted to add a bit of sweetness to this dish, you can use shallots instead of white onion.

Sage

Butternut squash & sage is a classic combo! Sage has quite a strong flavour that’s best when cooked, so in this dish, we’re frying the sage in oil first then stirring it into the orzo just before serving. We’re also using the sage infused oil to fry off the onion, squash & garlic.

Parmesan

You can’t make a risotto without parmesan! This adds a rich, nutty flavour to our orzo as well as creaminess. I like to grate extra on top when serving, for extra cheesiness!

Butter

The key to rich risottos is stirring in plenty of butter just before serving. This also gives our orzo a nice glossy finish.

Lemon

Adding a small amount of lemon juice cuts through the richness of the cheese & butter.

fresh sage
This dish is a great way to use freshly picked sage!

Cooking Orzo Like A Risotto

Step 1 – Prep The Butternut

First we need to prep our butternut. To do this, peel the squash, cut it in half & scoop out the seeds. Next, cut one half into rough chunks and the other into a small, rough dice. Set the diced squash aside.

Pop the large chunks into a roasting tin then roast until soft. Once cooked, transfer the butternut into a jug blender & blitz with veg stock to make a thin butternut puree/stock.

diced butternut squash
A rough dice is fine as the butternut will cook down into the sauce.

Step 2 – Risotto Base

Now onto the risotto. Place 2 tablespoons of veg oil into a large saucepan & place over a medium heat. When the oil is nice & hot, throw in the sage leaves and cook for 30 seconds or until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the oil.

Next, add in finely diced onion & the diced butternut from earlier. Season with salt & pepper then fry until soft. This will take around 10 minutes. Make sure to stir regularly so that it doesn’t burn.

When the onion & squash is nicely cooked, stir in grated garlic then cook for another 30 seconds.

Cook The Orzo

Now that the risotto base is ready, it’s time to add in the orzo. To do this, stir the pasta into the onion mix (like you would with risotto rice) then pour in all of the butternut stock & season with salt & pepper. To cook, the orzo is simmered until it is al dente, at which point the stock will have reduced into a thick, creamy sauce.

If the stock has reduced before the pasta has cooked, top it up with some more veg stock.

To Finish

To finish, finely chop the crispy sage then add into the orzo along with grated parmesan, butter, a squeeze of lemon juice & more seasoning (if needed). Take the risotto off the heat, leave to stand for a minute then spoon into bowls. Top with a drizzle of rapeseed oil & more grated parmesan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this with regular risotto rice?

You can defiantly make this recipe with risotto rice. Make sure to add the stock in gradually instead of all at once.

Can a different cheese be used instead of parmesan?

Parmesan works great in this dish but for something stronger a Taleggio or Gruyere would work well.

Can the orzo be reheated?

If you’ve got any orzo leftover, it needs to be stored in the fridge. To reheat place into a saucepan & set over a low heat. Add in a splash of hot water & cook until hot.

Equipment Used

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Cheesy Butternut Orzo

This cheesy butternut orzo is Autumn in a bowl! Cooked on the stove like a risotto & packed full of roasted squash, crispy sage & nutty parmesan.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Author: Ben Racey

Equipment

  • Roasting Tin
  • Jug Blender
  • Large Saucepan
  • Microplane/Grater

Ingredients

  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 800 ml Vegetable Stock Warm
  • 15 Sage Leaves
  • 1 Large White Onion Finely Diced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic Grated
  • 300 g Orzo
  • 75 g Butter
  • 100 g Parmesan Grated
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice

To Finish

  • Rapeseed Oil
  • Grated Parmesan

Instructions

  • Preheat an oven to 200°c/180°c fan (390°f/355°f).
  • Peel the butternut squash, cut in half & scoop out the seeds.
    Take one half, cut into a small, rough dice & set aside.
  • Cut the other half into rough chunks & place into a roasting tin. Drizzle with veg oil & season with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven until soft. This will take around 20 minutes.
  • Once cooked, place the roasted squash into a jug blender with the warm stock & blitz to make a thin puree/stock. Keep warm whilst you make the risotto base.
  • Next, place 2 tbsp of vegetable oil into a large saucepan & place over a medium heat. Once hot add in the sage leaves & cook for 30 seconds or until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon the set aside.
  • To the pan, add in the diced squash & onion. Season with salt & pepper and cook until soft, stirring occasionaly. This will take around 10 minutes.
  • Once the veg is soft, stir in the grated garlic & cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Next, stir in the orzo then pour in all of the butternut stock. Season then bring to a simmer & cook until the pasta is al dente & the sauce has thickened. Make sure to stir regularly. This will take around 10-15 minutes.
    If the stock has reduced before the orzo has cooked, top it up with some veg stock.
  • To finish, finely chop the crispy sage then add into the risotto with the butter, parmesan & lemon juice. Season with salt & pepper with necessary.
  • Remove the pan from the heat then let stand for a minute.
    Spoon the risotto into bowls then top with a drizzle of rapeseed oil, more grated parmesan & a crack of black pepper.

Notes

To cook on an Aga, roast the squash on the bottom set of runners in the roasting oven. Fry the onion over the boiling plate & cook the pasta on the simmering plate.
If you have any leftovers, they can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, warm in a pan with a splash of hot water.

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