Favorite Fall Orzo Salad

By • September 16, 2012 • 9 Comments

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Author Notes: I love fall's flavors ... especially roasted butternut squash. Combined with an orzo pasta and some microgreens -- your choice of watercress, arugula or any dark green, and you have the lushness of a roasted fall veggie with the lightness of a summer salad. I use fresh sage leaves when roasting the squash and a rich Maytag blue cheese to complement the dish, but you could sub a mild chevre or leave it off for a vegan side dish. This salad holds well and is as good at room temp as it is warm, or even cold from the fridge. If transporting, just add the cold blue cheese when ready to serve.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
  1. If you didn't purchase the precut butternut squash, then peel and cube the squash. If you did purchase the precut squash, give it a good rinse and pat dry.
  2. Drizzle the butternut squash with a good quality oil. Salt and pepper to taste. If you have some smoked salt (like alder), you can substitute a pinch of it for regular kosher salt.
  3. Arrange clusters of sage on top of squash. Reserve 2 to 3 sage leaves. If you don't have fresh sage, you can substitute some dried "rubbed sage" -- sprinkle liberally like salt.
  4. Bake at 450 F for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on your cube size) or until golden caramelization and deliciousness occurs.
  5. Cook orzo according to package directions. At my farmer's market there is a vendor that sells an "autumn blend" of tricolor orzo. Boil in approximately 4 cups salted water for 15-17 minutes (normal orzo will probably take much less time -- check your package to be sure). Drain and chill.
  6. Combine cooked butternut squash, pepitas, and orzo and toss. (The leftover oil in the roasting pan will serve as your "dressing" -- use leftover oil in pan to minimally coat orzo). Personally I don't think you need any acid (like lemon or vinegar) because of the "tang" of the blue cheese -- but if you are omitting the cheese, you may want to try a few splashes of a good balsamic vinegar.
  7. Add crumbled blue cheese (or feta or chevre or omit cheese) and choice of greens. Add a few chiffonaded strips of fresh sage as a garnish.
Jump to Comments (9)

Comments (9) Questions (0)


about 1 year ago lorigoldsby

I've noticed this year the precut butternut squash is quite a small dice...are you cooking with oil on a metal baking sheet?


about 1 year ago Lauren Wohl-Sanchez

Have made this a few times, but I must be doing something wrong with the squash as it burns before it cooks to anything approaching caramelization and the sage burns to a crisp as well. Convection oven is set to 375. Should I be covering this?


over 1 year ago lorigoldsby

Glad you enjoyed it @robin. We also sub goat cheese when we are out of blue or guests are finicky. Love the idea of pommegranate seeds! Thanks for your comment.


over 1 year ago Robin O'D

We made this salad tonight and loved it! We did make a few changes based on items we already had in the fridge. We used goat cheese instead of blue cheese, added some blanched haricots verts, added a small amount of dressing and topped with pomegranate seeds. Sooo good!


over 1 year ago abunnybabe

I'm making this tonight. I have already cut cut butternut squash leftover from cutting a GIANT squash and making the butternut and miso soup last night!


about 2 years ago lorigoldsby

Thanks for your note Amy. I think the crunch of the pepitas with the creaminess of the blue cheese provides nice textural contrast.


about 2 years ago Amy G.

This salad was great, I used arugula for the greens and blue cheese and sprinked extra pepitas on top, The flavors blended very well.


about 2 years ago lorigoldsby

I think the kabocha pumpkin would contrast nicely with the savory blue cheese ( or other cheese available in your market). Good luck! Let us know how it works, and if you use any herbal notes other than sage/thyme.


about 2 years ago BoulderGalinTokyo

This looks delicious. Sadly so many recipes on food52 have butternut or acorn squash and none to be had in the stores or markets here. Would kabocha pumpkin work, or too sweet?