Roasted Pumpkin Orzo

Weather plays such a big role in what we eat and when we eat it. Lately I’m having a hard time thinking up new recipes. I think it probably has something to do with the fleeting hours of daylight, the sub-zero temperatures and knowing full well that at least in Minnesota, nothing is growing any more. It makes it harder to figure out what to make and I usually end up resorting to some old favorites. Beef bourguignon. Beef stroganoff. French onion soup. Senor’s pasta. Lasagna. Essentially, a lot of meaty or carby dishes and a lot of soup. Oh, and a LOT of squash, cut in half and roasted. Eaten with a pat of butter.

Honestly, it makes me feel like I’m stumped. I know that Senor loves a lot of these recipes and looks forward to them as the reward for enduring cold weather. I do too. I never remake a recipe we don’t both love. This is definitely a time of year where I have to look for inspiration from other sources though. In spring, summer and fall I walk through the farmer’s market and look to see what’s ripe and delicious looking. I feel inspired by all the food in season and every single meal is based off of what produce is in season right that moment. Whole meals are inspired by a giant bunch of super fragrant cilantro. It’s a lot harder to be creative, I think, when the only things in season are essentially what you’ve got in your freezer. On the off chance that I do make something new and creative and delicious….you’re probably not going to see a picture of it. The sun rises at 7:40 and sets at 4:30. I’m either at work or en route to work during that entire time. Maybe, just maybe we’ll get lucky. Maybe we’ll have a bright sunny weekend and I will be inspired to make a variety of new dishes to share with you all.

I made this recipe right as the fall vegetables started to finish off here. For now, we’ve got root veggies and citrus fruits from Florida. I’m trying to make the best of it. You’ll see some additional squash recipes coming soon. And ultimately I’m probably going to break down and buy the asparagus from Peru and the green beans from Chile. I’m not happy about it. Whether or not I can make anything really delicious and interesting out of them remains to be seen. I promise to do my best.

Luckily pumpkin can be bought in a can if you can’t find a fresh one. Eggplant is one of those fall veggies that stores pretty well so you can still find it and enjoy it during the colder months. And the really great news is that pumpkin, eggplant, sliced almonds and orzo go really well together. This was satisfying but not nearly as heavy as spaghetti with meat sauce, or a giant square of lasagna.

Roasted Pumpkin Orzo
serves four

1 medium baking pumpkin

1 large eggplant, cubed

8 ounces whole wheat orzo

3/4 cup sliced almonds

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

Salt, Pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika

If using a fresh pumpkin, cut it in half and clean out the insides. Situate the halves face-down in a baking dish, along with a half-inch of water. Roast in a 400 degree oven until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

If you’re using canned pumpkin, you may not be able to cut it into pieces to toss with the pasta. It will probably work better if you simply simmer the canned pumpkin with the white wine and olive oil and make a thick sauce to coat the pasta. It’ll be delicious either way.

Let the pumpkin cool so it’s workable. Meanwhile, boil the orzo. When tender, rinse and drain the orzo until you’re ready to use it.

Once the pumpkin is cool enough to work with, peel the skin off of the flesh. Cut the pumpkin into small cubes. It should be soft but not overly squishy.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and add in the eggplant. The egg plant will absorb the oil, so occasionally add a few tablespoons of water to keep the pan from drying out. Saute the eggplant until soft. Add the white wine, pumpkin and drained orzo. Reduce the heat to low.

Sprinkle the skillet with salt, pepper and garlic. Add a few shakes of smoked paprika and toss gently. Let the mixture simmer lightly until the sauce is slightly thickened and the pumpkin has spread evenly.

Remove from heat. Stir in the almonds, saving a few for garnish. Serve immediately.

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One Comment on “Roasted Pumpkin Orzo”

  1. Jessica says:

    I love seeing pumpkin in savory recipes!


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