Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Winter Squash Orzo with Sage

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may be sick of squash recipes by now. But then you'd also know how I love local, organic ingredients and hate waste, so you may still have an appreciation for the plethora of squash recipes. Luckily I've managed to find enough variety in my recipes to use up my freezer squash cache that I'm not sick of it just yet, but I may feel differently when it truly feels like spring around these parts. Until then I'm going to keep looking for new and different ways to enjoy many members of the gourd family. I've made quite a few pastas with a squash-based sauce, but this stands out as one of the creamiest, silkiest indulgences yet. The squash itself is mildly sweet and very smooth, with a little bit of butter and milk enriching the sauce enough to form a full background against which the sage and Parmesan shine. For me, sage is decidedly a harvest and winter herb, and this perfectly seasonal bowl of flavor is a fine way enjoy the (hopefully) impending end of winter.

Winter Squash Orzo with Sage
adapted from Serious Eats
serves 4

8 ounces whole wheat orzo
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups winter squash puree (pumpkin, butternut, acorn, etc.)
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1 shallot, diced
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving

1. In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of broth and 3 cups of water to boil over high heat. Add orzo. Return to a boil and cook for 7 or 8 minutes or until pasta is just shy of al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, sauté shallots in butter for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup of broth and 1/2 cup of milk. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes or so.

3. Add squash puree to simmering broth and stir well. Add salt, pepper, sage and remaining 3/4 cup of broth. Reduce heat and simmer on medium low for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thinner than the desired consistency.

4. Add orzo, stir thoroughly, and continue to cook for an additional few minutes until the orzo is cooked and sauce is the desired consistency, adding additional water or broth if sauce is too thick. Stir in Parmesan cheese and serve hot, serving with more cheese on top, if desired.

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