Have you ever tried orzo pasta? It’s a tiny one that looks like rice, but it’s silky and buttery and delicious, and I love it.
I went to a gorgeous independent, ethical, local food shop recently. HiSBe (How it Should Be) is beautiful and full of fresh exciting produce and colours. I was most amazed by the fact that, while not exactly “dirt cheap”, many items were surprisingly affordable, especially compared to many of the farm shops in the area. I decided to give their package-free bulk food dispensers a go, and came back with a haul of jars full to the brim with organic nuts, rice, lentils, grains… and orzo pasta.
I have had orzo a few times before, and have longed to have it more often, but it’s not always the easiest thing to find in English supermarkets (although I’m happy to notice this is changing). So once I spotted it, there was no stopping me. As I filled the jar, my mind started running through all of the yummy meals I could make with it.
Starting with this one. Because this is my absolute favourite way of having orzo.
It’s rich, filling, creamy, orange-y (ok, so not a word, but I’m going with it), cheesy and so beautifully simple that you can make it in no time with few ingredients.
Orzo cooks even quicker than most pastas, so you can literally have this meal ready in minutes. Oh yes, you’ve hit the healthy-delicious-and-cheap-jackpot here my friend!
I used pattypan squash because it’s what I had on hand. I bought it out of sheer intrigue – who wouldn’t be curious about a funny-named squash that looks, quite literally, squashed. Because pattypan squash is one of the smaller British squash, I chucked in some sweet potato puree, too, to stretch it to feed four very hungry, pasta loving family members.
You are welcome to use two pattypans (pattypan? pattypans? hmm…) and make it a beautiful golden yellow colour, but likewise you could go for a deep orange with one big butternut squash, some pumpkin or sweet potato puree or whatever squash takes your fancy. I think that may be the most anyone has ever used the word squash in a post. Maybe I should switch it up. But gourd doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
And if you are feeling extra indulgent? Try it with some blue cheese crumbled into it, too. Oh yes, it’s all about the creaminess here. Yum. Ooh ooh, or try crispy bacon pieces topping it to add a little more crunch! Or, or, or pour it into a casserole dish and cover with breadcrumbs and/or Parmesan cheese and bake until golden, bubbling, crunchy and delicious. The possibilities are endless. As, apparently, is my appetite. I think maybe I need to head back to HiSBe soon…
A creamy, delicious orzo pasta dish that is filling and warm. Cheap and easy, this dish can literally be prepared in minutes.
- 300 g (10oz) orzo
- 1 butternut squash or 2 smaller squashes (pattypan, acorn...) or 2 large sweet potatoes, cooked and pureed*
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 1 tbsp pine nuts, optional
- a few scrapings of fresh nutmeg (or 1/4 tsp ground)
- 1/2 cup (50g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional if vegan, but recommended if not!
- salt & pepper
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the orzo pasta for 5-7 mins, until "al dente" (cooked but with a little bite). Drain, keeping 1/2 cup of the cooking water to loosen the sauce with.
Return the orzo to the pan with the squash puree. Heat through before stirring in the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste. Serve with a green salad or steamed green vegetables.
* to make squash or sweet potato puree, you can boil or roast the peeled, cubed squash until soft and then blitz in a food processor or with a hand blender until smooth. Alternatively, you can use 1 serving of ready-made unsweetened pumpkin or squash puree (just check the ingredients to make sure squash/pumpkin is the only ingredient!)