November 30, 2011Posted in: Dinner
Winter is coming.
Or so they say. You wouldn’t know it from the mild weather we’ve had in New Jersey lately. Not that I’m complaining. I haven’t quite recovered from last winter. A winter where it seemed to snow every week.
But before I start to have flashbacks to shoveling my driveway for hours on end, lets talk about a happier “winter”. This orzo with winter squash dish.
Have you had a winter squash before? Besides this dish, I had only had it once before. In a “lasagna”.
I’m from New Jersey and am Irish Italian (please don’t mention The Jersey Shore, I wholeheartedly despise them) – so my idea of lasagna involves red sauce, lasagna noodles, and lots and lots of cheese. Sure, you can add some meat or some spinach, but if you remove those critical components (i.e. the sauce and cheese) it isn’t a lasagna. So when I was served a “lasagna” with squash and pine nuts, I looked at Rachel and said “this ain’t lasagna”.
But I digress. This dish certainly isn’t “lasagna”. The orzo is perfectly welcomed into the creamy texture of the squash. The bread crumbs and romano cheese adds a nice salty crunch to each bite, while the squash counters with a mild sweetness. It’s a wonderful dish for a cold winter night, or a mild autumn one as the case may be.
- 1 lb winter squash, seeded and cut into large pieces OR a (2) 12 oz package frozen winter squash.
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 oz dried orzo
- 2 oz pancetta, chopped (we prefer using leftover ham, or about 1/2 pound deli ham)
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dried whole wheat bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- 2 cups (16 fl oz) chicken stock
- Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.
- Place squash on a non stick or sprayed cooking sheet, cut side down, and bake until squash is soft and tender - about 45 minutes. Let cool until cool to the touch, remove the pulp, place in a small bowl and mash. Discard the skins OR save time and use a 12 oz package of frozen winter squash. Add the cayenne, nutmeg, and pepper..
- Boil orzo according to package instructions, drain, rinse and set aside in a bowl.
- In a medium frying pan over medium heat saute pancetta or ham, using non stick cooking spray, until just crisp. Add in chopped onion and continue sauteing until softened.
- In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, pecorino romano cheese and salt.
- To the orzo, add the squash, pancetta/ham and onions and toss to mix well. Transfer to a 2 qt baking dish. Mix in the chicken stock and top with the bread crumb mixture.
- Bake until the crumbs just begin to color, about 20 minutes.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
Adapted from: William Sonoma Complete Pasta Cookbook