Weeknights with Jenny

Fall Orzo Salad with Butternut Squash & Blue Cheese

By • November 12, 2012 • 6 Comments

Jenny is in perpetual search for easy, weeknight recipes to attempt to feed her family. When they balk, she just eats more.

orzo salad

I am one of those weird people who actually orders salads in restaurants. To others this probably sounds nuts, but washing and drying lettuces and finely chopping up veggies is my equivalent of measuring and spooning for those who hate to bake.

Then, there is the end product problem. You wash, you chop, you arrange, and you dress, and what are you left with really? A side dish. Jenny’s cost benefit analysis concludes: nope.

But I’ve made an exception with this lovely orzo salad, which mixes minimal effort with enough substance to provide an entire weeknight meal for a family of four, or dinner for you and yours with lunch leftovers.

You will see the bulk of this baby comes from orzo, the world’s most versatile pasta, and butternut squash, which I highly recommend buying already cubed if you really wanted to keep your effort to a minimum. (The other options are to cube in the morning before work, or, my personal favorite, to fob this task off on someone else.)

From there you are popping your veggies in the oven while you wash up some arugula and crumble some cheese, and at least in my case, go pick the last of your sage from the garden, which no doubt has stubbornly resisted the entreaties of fall, which has no doubt slapped your wimpy basil and tarragon into seasonal submission. Start your orzo at some point, too.  My squash took close to 40 minutes to cook; cut it smaller if you want to lessen cook time.

Don’t hate me Meatless Monday-ers, but I also tucked some chicken rubbed with salt, pepper, and garlic powder into the oven and chopped it up as an addition to this salad, just to give it the full-meal finish. No pepitas? No problem.

The best part of this whole deal, in my view, is the blue cheese, which replaces the glop of dressing with a burst of fat and tang, and pairs beautifully with the squash. Did I use about twice what was called for? In fact I did. I said I love salad; I didn’t say I loved virtue.

Favorite Fall Orzo Salad by lorigoldsby

Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds butternut squash, cut into bite-sized cubes
1/4 pound orzo
2 ounces Maytag blue cheese
1/4 cup oil (scant)
1 bunch fresh sage leaves
Fresh cracked pepper and coarse kosher, sea, or alder salt
1 bunch watercress, arugula, or any microgreen
1 ounce roasted pepitas

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Photo by James Ransom


Jump to Comments (6)

Tags: Jenny's in the Kitchen, pasta, salad, fall, butternut squash, blue cheese, everyday cooking

Comments (6)

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8 months ago KK

I really like this salad -- great combo of flavors! Can I use other types of squash? Perhaps pumpkin, acorn, or kabocha?

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almost 2 years ago JenniferF

Erin.Quinn, I'm not a fan of blue cheese either. I find that really good Greek feta (not sad, grocery store crumbles) can be nice, or even ricotta salata can be a nice crumbly cheese for salad.

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almost 2 years ago Erin.Quinn

Any substitutions for blue cheese in this salad? Salad looks great, I'm just not a blue cheese fan.

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almost 2 years ago Joleensta

Great fall salad. I hate chopping the squash. It takes a little longer but I usually bake it in the oven whole till it's tender. Thanks for sharing.

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almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Have never seen this before, what a wonderful salad. I love salads that are substantial enough to be a meal, this fits the bill. So happy to see Lori's lovely recipe highlighted.

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almost 2 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I love eating and hate making salad too! We have a never ending hot potato in our house - the Whose Night Is It To Make Salad one. I will declare that I don't even WANT salad when it's my night (a lie) just to get out of it. But this one looks worthy of the effort plus - two birds one salad and all that ....