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Orzo with Winter Squash

Comments : 9 Posted in : Dinner on by : Chris Tags: , ,

winter squash orzo

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.

winter squash orzo

Have you had a winter squash before?Β 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”.

winter squash orzo

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.


winter squash orzo

Orzo with Winter Squash


  • 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


  1. Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.
  2. 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..
  3. Boil orzo according to package instructions, drain, rinse and set aside in a bowl.
  4. 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.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, pecorino romano cheese and salt.
  6. 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.
  7. Bake until the crumbs just begin to color, about 20 minutes.
  8. Serve hot and enjoy!

Adapted from: William Sonoma Complete Pasta Cookbook


9 thoughts

    • Chris
      November 30, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      Oh no, really? I didn’t think I’d be a fan either but once I had it (not in “lasagna”) I became a big fan. Maybe you can sneak it in on him? πŸ˜‰

    • Chris
      November 30, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      Oh yea! We’ve got a constant supply of pecorino romano in our house πŸ™‚

  • November 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I love the colors in this! Orzo is one of my favorites.

    • Chris
      December 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      Thanks! We can’t take credit though, adapted from William Sonoma book. But soooo delicious πŸ™‚

  • December 1, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I instantly started drooling onces I saw those pictures. Yesterday I picked up a butternut squash and wanted to do something with it but wasn’t sure what at the time! I want to go back to get it and some orzo asap, this looks and sounds amazing.

    • Chris
      December 1, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      Erin you definitely should! The flavors and textures work so well, and its easy to put it all together. Hope you have a great weekend πŸ™‚

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