Roasted Butternut Squash Orzo

Yeah, you will want to eat this.

Life update: taking three graduate courses was way harder than I anticipated, hence not posting on this site for three billion years. Prepare for several months of backlogged recipes. I’m currently in the middle of writing my Master’s Thesis, which I may share bits and pieces about from time to time. While this is primarily a food blog, it does have “Graduate” in the title, so you’re just going to have to deal with my academic side too ūüôā I do apologize for my negligence to this site; I promise to be better in the New Year! (isn’t that how all failed New Year’s resolutions begin?)

When I made this recipe, it was chilly (for Texas) and nothing warms me up like oven-roasted squash. I made this recipe years ago, but couldn’t find where I got it from, so I re-made it up out of my head and here we go.

  • 1.5 cups of orzo
  • 1 small onion, diced (I’ve used white, yellow, and red; experiment to see what you like best. Shallot could taste great too)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups of butternut squash, cubed
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • Freshly grated parmesan or asiago cheese
  • Salt and pepper, ground to taste

Preheat over to 400F, and toss the butternut cubes in olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can experiment with adding other spices and seasonings, depending on your mood. I’ve done a 1/4 cup of orange juice for sweetness, or you could go smoky and earthy with some smoked paprika. Your preference! Roast the squash on a baking sheet for 20 minutes, stir, then roast for 10 minutes more. Remove from oven.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add in the orzo. I find that orzo takes anywhere from 12-15 minutes to cook. I like al dente, but orzo is so dense that sometimes getting an even al dente is tricky. At the 12-minute mark, test the orzo to see if you like the consistency and tweak remaining cooking time from there. When orzo is fully cooked, drain.

While the orzo boils and the squash roasts, bring 2 Tbs. olive oil to a shimmer in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, sautéing until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add spinach and wilt down, about 2 minutes at the most (another option, if you like your spinach a little more fresh, is to just add the spinach at the end to the serving bowl and let the heat of the cooked pasta and squash wilt it naturally).

When all the elements are cooked, add to a serving bowl and combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you are feeling fresh and fancy, try a splash of white wine vinegar to brighten up the palate. Grate fresh cheese over top and serve.


French Onion Soup for the Non-Purist (So, Onion Soup)

The face of beauty.

About a month ago, Troy and I got to go on a food theology retreat with some people from our church. It was a lot of delicious food, the wine and whiskey were flowing, we spent an hour+ in the company of an onion; it was, in all, a lovely time. Plus I got in a 2-hour nap that I really, really needed.

You’re probably thinking, wait,¬†go¬†back;¬†an¬†hour¬†in¬†the¬†company¬†of¬†an¬†onion?¬†What¬†the¬†hell¬†does¬†that¬†mean? It means that we spent an hour lovingly engaging with the beauty, taste, smell, feel, and sounds of an onion. If you have ever read The¬†Supper¬†of¬†the¬†Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon, he begins the work by directing the reader through an hour with an onion. You begin by addressing the onion (greeting it), then spending time, taking it apart, layer by layer, feeling and smelling and tasting each part. It was a really special time to slow down and contemplate an object that is both food and art equally. We finished up our time of reflection by slicing each layer of the onion separately, collecting the slivers for a scrumptious onion soup. Let me tell you, no Onion Soup has ever been more lovingly prepared. Each sliver was pared with tenderness!

We had so many onions that not all of them made it into the soup, so I took home a pound and replicated the soup we made, only with vegetable broth, not chicken. Here’s the recipe, I hope you enjoy it!

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pound of onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
  • 1Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. whole-grain or dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups vegetable broth or stock of your choice. If you want to make it more like an authentic French Onion soup, beef broth is traditional
  • Shredded Gruyere cheese (for topping)
I love to let the onions caramelize a bit; adds a nice bit of charcoal-y bite to the soup.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil, adding sliced onions and shallot when the oil begins to shimmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir often. When the onions are about halfway done (the edges should start to look translucent), add the butter and mustard, stirring often. When onions are fully cooked, deglaze the pot with 1/2 cup of white wine, give the pot a good stir, then add all 6 cups of broth. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Top with shredded Gruyere and serve with a side of crusty sourdough bread! I recommend homemade bread, and if you don’t have time for sourdough, here’s a great almost-no-knead recipe that my priest recommended to me, and is completely delicious! It uses beer and vinegar to achieve the flavor of sourdough, without all the work. My priest and I both recommend apple cider vinegar; it’s the best.

Oniony goodness!

Bon appetit!

Here’s a picture of the finished loaf. Not too dense.