This Butternut Squash Orzo is packed with creamy butternut squash sauce, crumbled bacon, and parmesan cheese. It's incredibly easy to make and can be served as either an entree or a side!
(This recipe for Butternut Squash Orzo was originally posted in November 2010, but was updated with new photos in 2018).
Just because I've declared I'm done whipping up new recipes with pumpkin for the season doesn't mean I'm over orange foods all together. Nope. For some reason squash and sweet potatoes don't stay relegated to the months of September, October, and November, like pumpkin does. I blame pumpkin spice and it's holiday appeal... Once Thanksgiving hits, Christmas flavors come into play and it seems like pumpkin is left behind. But sweet potato and squash? Those are cool all the way through winter. Thank goodness.
It's funny, though. Orange foods are most definitely my favorite foods (think about it: pumpkin, sweet potatoes, squash, mangos, and some CHEESE. OK, and oranges, peaches, and creamsicles. And CHEESE). But apart from food, I'm not such an orange person. In fact, today I realized I can practically count the orange around my house. My closet is fully void of orange (I'm fairly certain I don't look good in orange, though I haven't attempted rocking it in quite some time) and orange decor is just not my thing, though I can certainly appreciate it in some people's houses when done right. Call me a major nerd if you will, but aside from food (and fall candles!), my favorite orange item is the Chicago Manual of Style (fun fact: I once had to read the entire book in grad school copywriting class. It's really long. Also, please don't start judging my grammar. Eeek).
Anyway, in the fall and winter, I always have lots of orange food in my kitchen. I love a good butternut squash risotto and when I needed a quick meal the other night, I decided to try out my take on this butternut squash orzo recipe and it was so, so perfect.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH ORZO RECIPE
If you're scared of risotto, this orzo might be a safer place to start. But really, you have absolutely NO reason to be scared of risotto because it's fun and easy and I don't get what the hype is all about. I have lots of risotto recipes on this blog that you should try. But in the meantime, you can make this, too. This recipe requires almost no work at all!
Simply brush your butternut squash half, onion half, and garlic with a little bit of olive oil and roast for about 45 minutes (the garlic will probably need less time). When you remove them from the oven, you'll let them cool a bit and then puree them in a food processor or blender. The result will be an absolutely delicious sauce.
Mix that butternut squash sauce together with your cooked orzo, some crispy bacon, and some grated parmesan cheese. And then top with more parmesan cheese and dig in.
This was most definitely comfort food to a T. Creamy, but without a drop of cream added. Now, isn't that music to your ears? If you know someone who claims not to like butternut squash, make butternut squash orzo for them. They'll change their mind really quickly (and if not, they're totally lying. Tell them to stop being stubborn. Ahem, I don't know this from personal experience).
I mean, there's bacon in this. And bacon is just one little trick to getting people to eat foods they don't think they like. But you don't even need to use tricks for this one. You could actually leave the bacon out and it would still be awesome. But don't because it does add a very nice salty crunchy touch.
If you want to make this even more of a hearty meal, feel free to add chicken in (rotisserie chicken if you're feeling super lazy like I usually am!). You could also serve this as a side dish to a meat dish. It even makes a great Thanksgiving side dish if you're looking for something a little bit different.
I'll say it again, I don't think risotto is hard to make at all, but this butternut squash orzo is a lot less high-maintenance. No adding chicken broth and stirring and waiting. And this almost just as creamy and flavorful. Try it! Maybe even tonight? You won't regret it
Do you eat butternut squash all fall/winter long?
If you're looking for more delicious squash recipes, check out my recipe for Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup (with grilled cheese croutons!) or my recipe for Winter Salmon Tacos with Butternut Squash Salsa and Cranberry Crema.
Butternut Squash Orzo
- ½ butternut squash
- ½ small onion, peeled
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 cup orzo, cooked according to package directions
- 5 strips bacon, cooked crispy
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Clean the seeds and membrane out the butternut squash half. Put the squash, onion, and garlic on a foil-covered cookie sheet. Lightly brush with olive oil.
- Bake for 45 minutes, removing garlic after about 25 minutes. Once squash and onion are out of oven, let cool slightly.
- Add all veggies to a food processor or blender with chicken broth. Blend until smooth. If sauce is too thick, add a bit more chicken broth.
- In a large bowl or in the pot orzo was cooked in, toss orzo, bacon, ⅓ cup parmesan cheese, and butternut squash sauce.
- Serve in bowls topped with additional parmesan cheese.
- Recipe adapted from The Little Red House