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Pumpkin Sage Orzo Risotto Recipe

Pumpkin Sage Orzo Risotto Recipe

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This risotto was inspired by a favorite Memphis dish. By inspired, I mean that I was quite intrigued by the concept of taking what would normally be a risotto dish with small chunks of chicken and substituting a vegetable — er — fruit (yes, people, pumpkins are fruit!). You can make it the traditional way with short-grain or Arborio rice, or try it as pictured, with orzo (that also cooks faster).

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  • 1 cup small cubed pumpkin, about ½-inch thick
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups orzo or Arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ½ tablespoon sage
  • 1 tomato, sliced for garnish
  • ½ tablespoon fresh basil, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toss pumpkin squares with the olive oil, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.

Spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until pieces are easily pierced by a toothpick. Set aside to cool.

Heat the water until boiling, then add the orzo or rice and stir occasionally. After 8 minutes for the orzo or after 18 minutes for the rice, drain and then return to the pot. Add the pumpkin cubes, pine nuts, and sage.

Garnish with the tomato slices and fresh basil.

Spring Vegetable Orzo Risotto

Spring Vegetable Orzo Risotto with asparagus and sweet peas. It is reach and decadent yet fresh and light at the same time thanks to lemon and herbs.

Orzotto & Orzo Risotto

Hello everyone! I hope you’re doing well.

Today I am bringing something utterly delicious, this Spring Vegetable Orzo Risotto. Of course, I could have used the word “orzotto” instead as it’s so poetic! However, orzotto is an Italian dish made with pearl barley (Please let me know if I’m wrong). Confusing, right? By the way, I also have a barley risotto on my blog – this Wild Mushroom Barley Risotto. If you are interested in more orzo ideas, you can check this One-Pot Chicken Mushroom Orzo.

This orzo risotto, as you can assume has a consistency of traditional risotto. It’s delightfully rich and buttery. Also, you will be adding the liquid gradually, to allow the orzo to absorb it before adding more. Best part? You will need only one pan! The only one real difference from rice risotto is that orzo requires a bit less of the cooking time.

Spring Vegetable Orzo Risotto

While this dish is incredibly rich and decadent thanks to butter and parmesan, it is also refreshing and light at the same time. Green peas and asparagus are perfect spring vegetables, and the addition of lemon and herbs lighten up it a lot. Thyme, mint, and oregano would be some great options. Certainly, you can make it even lighter by using water instead of broth or using the combination of both.

This is a pretty large pan enough probably for 4 quite hungry people, but no worries if you have any leftovers. That will be so good the next day for your lunch. Just preheat it over low-medium heat in a pan for a few minutes (or use a microwave.)

I hope you like this Spring Vegetable Orzo Risotto, and you will give it a try. If you do, please let me know in your comments or via a message on my Instagram or hashtag #havocinthekitchen. Cheers for now!

Recipe Summary

  • 1 small sugar pumpkin - seeded, peeled, and diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 pinch salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 4 cups hot chicken broth
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly oil a baking sheet.

Toss diced pumpkin with 2 tablespoons olive oil, sage, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Spread evenly onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven, turning once midway through cooking, until pumpkin begins to brown, about 25 minutes.

Melt butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot cook and stir until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice and stir until the rice is coated in oil and has started to toast, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 3 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring slowly after each addition until absorbed into the rice. Add the roasted pumpkin. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth until mostly absorbed and rice is tender adding the broth should take about 20 minutes total. Turn off heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese.

What is the liquid to rice ratio for risotto?

Generally, a 3-1 ratio is appropriate: 3 cups of liquid to one cup of uncooked arborio rice. You can adjust this ratio slightly depending on other ingredients in the recipe.

I prefer using broth or stock as the cooking liquid because it adds additional flavor to the rice. Purees, such as the pumpkin in this recipe, can also be added for flavor. You can also add cream at the end of the cooking process, along with cheese, to enhance the creaminess.

Orzo Risotto


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup shallots, chopped
  • 2 cups orzo pasta
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3½ cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped


Heat the chicken broth in a small saucepan over high heat until it comes close to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and keep the broth warm.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes until they begin to become soft. Do not let them brown.

Add the orzo and stir to coat it with the butter.

Add the wine and simmer, stirring until it is completely absorbed. This will take about 2 minutes.

Add ½ cup of the simmering broth and stir until it is almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Continue adding the broth, ½ cup at a time and stirring in each addition until is almost completely absorbed.

You will repeat the process until all of the broth has been added, stirring constantly until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite and creamy.

Turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese, lemon zest and parsley.

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Arborio rice is a short grained white rice that has a higher starch content than other types of short grained rice. This higher starch content is what gives risotto it&rsquos creamy texture. Buy arborio rice.

You can used canned or Homemade Pumpkin Puree. I like the homemade as it's fresh and I believe the flavor is better. But canned is fine - just make sure it's NOT pumpkin pie filing. Buy canned pumpkin.

It's important to use fresh sage in this recipe, as it has a much better flavor than dried.

Brandy is used in this recipe as it goes with pumpkin very well. However, you can substitute white wine for the brandy if desired.

The full list of ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Butternut Squash Orzo with Feta and Sage

Do you see that very large casserole dish of velvety roasted butternut squash, orzo, feta and sage up there? Did you see the size of it? Yeah, I could and eat that entire dish. No shame. It&rsquos really that good. Like, GOOOOOOOOOOD.

An easy yet delicious side dish!

It&rsquos not often I find a recipe that has a short ingredient list like this that is full of rich, creamy flavor. So when I do&hellip I eat. It. All.

There are so many things to love about this simple butternut squash orzo recipe that I&rsquom going to list them out.

1. Roasted butternut squash is like eating a tiny bite of fall. It&rsquos a bit sweet, creamy and earthy.

2. It&rsquos healthy! With a hearty dose of vitamin C, butternut squash is a perfectly delicious way to prep for cold season.

3. Orzo has twice as much protein as rice, so it fills you up for longer.

4. It&rsquos a perfect and super easy Thanksgiving side dish.

I could go on about how much I love feta and how it perfectly compliments the sweetness of the butternut squash and how shallots are the beautiful marriage of onions and garlic but I&rsquoll spare you and just show you some pretty photos with a few tips&hellip

How to get more flavor from dried sage.

Add sage when you sauté. The oil re-hydrates and allows the flavor of the herb to really come alive. This is important to remember when working with any dry herbs.

What makes Feta cheese taste different than other cheeses?

Feta cheese is made from sheep&rsquos milk or a combination of sheep and goat&rsquos milk. However, most grocery stores make their feta with cow&rsquos milk. So, if you want a true feta flavor, try visiting a specialty cheese shop.

You may also get better results if you crumble the feta yourself. It&rsquos an extra step but pre-crumbled just like pre-shredded cheeses, are often coated with an anti-caking powder to prevent the pieces from sticking together. This translates to a more powdery, less flavorful cheese that you need more of the achieve the same flavor. So you can save money and calories and use less cheese when you buy blocks of cheese. If crumbled is more convenient though, I totally understand and buy it myself most times because I get lazy. 😉

What&rsquos the difference between a shallot and an onion?

A shallot grows in clusters not a single bulb and is slightly sweeter than an onion with a bit of a garlic taste to it. If you can&rsquot find one at the store (they are small and usually come in a bag of several) or you just don&rsquot have one handy, then you can use a combination of onion and minced garlic as a substitute. You&rsquoll just want to use a very small onion, or half of a larger onion.

The thing I love most about shallots though is their purple color! It looks so pretty in this dish so it&rsquos worth it to try to find one if you can!

How to Cook Butternut Squash in the Oven

You can start with a whole butternut squash, or pre-cubed butternut squash for this recipe. You can typically find cubed butternut squash next to the snack packaged broccoli florets, snap peas, etc.

If you&rsquore starting with a whole butternut squash, simple cut it in half length-wise:

and then place it face down on the baking sheet adding a bit of water to the baking sheet to keep squash moist while cooking.

This butternut squash orzo dish is really easy to make.

I honestly like to cheat and use the cubed squash so I don&rsquot have to cut or seed a whole squash. However, its still an easy recipe even if you&rsquore starting with a whole squash.

Total there are just 7 ingredients!

Watch the step by step video showing how to make this tasty vegetable side dish:

Making this again and want to try a variation?

Here are a few delicious ways to change this dish up a bit:

&bull Try adding in spinach! Throw in a handful or two of fresh spinach leaves when you&rsquore cooking the shallots. They just need to wilt a little and then they&rsquoll stir in perfectly.

&bull Add some rotisserie chicken or sausage and it&rsquos a complete meal in one dish.

&bull Try using risotto instead of orzo.

What is the difference between risotto and orzo anyway?

Risotto is actually a rice. Orzo is a pasta. &ldquoRisotto&rdquo refers to the method of cooking rice where you basically infuse the rice with flavor, typically by cooking it in broth.

Orzo on the other hand is an actual product you can buy. It&rsquos not a grain like rice. Orzo is made just like any other type of pasta, typically with flour and egg. Orzo is shaped like rice so the texture is very similar.

Since both are so similar, you can use either one to make this recipe. I&rsquove noticed that the orzo holds its shape better and doesn&rsquot crumble or get as overly saturate as rice can. It&rsquos also easier to cook than rice. However, if you have an egg or gluten allergy, rice would make an excellent substitution for orzo in this dish and would also qualify this dish to be called &ldquobutternut squash risotto.&rdquo So now you know!

Do you need a casserole dish to make this?

Not really. This can be prepared on the stove top then transferred to a large serving bowl. I prefer to serve mine in an oven-safe casserole dish though so that I can pop it in the oven to keep it warm. You could also keep this warm using a crockpot.

I really like the presentation of food in a white dish though and that&rsquos why I typically serve my side dishes using my favorite Corningware casserole dish.

The 2.5 qt dish is a good size for this recipe, leaving room to spare for scooping without a mess. The set is a good price and the large dish comes with a glass lid so it looks great on the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Thanksgiving Leftover Idea!

This butternut squash orzo pairs so nicely with smoked turkey. Just shred any leftover smoked turkey you have and toss it into this butternut squash orzo. The addition of turkey makes this into a complete meal in just one step and the flavor will blow your mind! By the way, if you&rsquove never smoked a turkey before, check out this how to smoke a turkey tutorial. It&rsquos super easy but you will need a smoker.

Make it a chicken casserole for dinner!

By just adding shredded rotisserie chicken, this becomes a complete dinner. Perfect for busy weeknights.

Recipe: Pumpkin risotto with fried sage

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If you’ve never made risotto before, you’re missing out on a great candidate for a weeknight meal. With no more at hand than the right rice, an onion, some broth and a wedge of Parmesan, you have dinner.

Like omelets or tortillas, risotto is attractive as a weeknight dinner because of its flexibility you can augment it with anything, your choice of veggies and/or proteins, leftovers definitely included. And, yes, I know that the Italians think of risotto as a first course, like soup or pasta. But in this country there aren’t many working folks preparing multi-course meals during the week.

Let’s start with the basic risotto technique. For a family of four to six, you’ll need about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the correct rice, half a chopped onion, 6 cups of broth, and about a cup of cheese.

There are three proper rice choices – carnaroli, vialone nano and arborio, with arborio being the easiest to find. All three are much starchier than the long-grain rice we usually cook with, which means they produce a wonderful creamy sauce when cooked properly.

In the standard prep method, you start by sauteeing the onion in a bit of fat (butter or olive oil or both) until softened. You then add the rice and “toast” it, that is, coat it thoroughly with the fat. Next, the liquid is added – no more than 1/2 cup at a time – and brought to a simmer. And stirred. And stirred. And stirred… until most of the liquid has been absorbed and you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir.

Then you do it again. And again. Again. The point of this method is to coax as much starch out of the rice as possible. The whole process takes about 20 plus minutes of constant stirring. All that non-stop stirring is what makes some people shy away from making risotto. It’s just too much doggone work.

Happily, if heretically, there’s a less labour-intensive way to get the job done. It’s a method I was taught by Andrew Carmellini, a wonderful New York chef and restaurateur with an Italian background. He adds the broth just twice, half in the beginning and the remaining half after the first batch has been absorbed, which cuts way down on the stirring. Try it yourself and see if it the resulting risotto isn’t satisfyingly creamy.

After you’ve added the broth, when the grains of rice are just al dente, it’s time to put in the cheese, and perhaps an extra dab of butter. It’s also at this point that I sometimes pour in a little additional broth, which makes the risotto saucier. You can add the cooked veggies or protein at the beginning or end of this process.

I cast pumpkin as the star of this dish because this is the season for it. But I’m not talking about Charlie Brown’s great pumpkins I’m working with the mini guys. Most folks think these cute little squashes are just for decoration, but they happen to be super tasty. I roasted them, cut side down, until they were very tender, then discarded the seeds – a chore that’s much easier to do after the pumpkins are cooked. Finally, I scooped out and mashed the pulp and stirred it into the risotto. If you can’t find the tiny pumpkins, you can substitute 1 1/2 to 2 cups of mashed roasted butternut squash.

Orzo Risotto

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic. Sauté until shallots are tender, about 5 minutes. Add orzo sauté 5 minutes. Mix in 6 cups boiling water and salt. Simmer uncovered until orzo is tender, liquid is absorbed, and risotto is creamy, stirring often, about 18 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in thyme and peel, then parsley.

How would you rate Orzo Risotto?

This is hands down one of BA’s most underrated recipes ever. Making risotto using Orzo? Pure genius. We made it once like the original recipe states, and once with a few mods. Swapping chicken stock for water, and adding liquid in a little bit at a time like traditional risotto. Never again will we make orzo or risotto any other way. The seating of lemon peel into the final product made a luxurious pasta that we paired with Healthyish’s escabeche. AMAZING

This was the perfect easy risotto. I substituted chicken stock for the water and added it a half-cupfull at a time. Instead of thyme, I used dill and a bit of Italian parsley for herbs which complimented the buttery orzo very well. I recommend being generous with salt and pepper as it gets rather diluted with all the liquid.


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