Brown-Butter Orzo With Butternut Squash
In this autumnal one-pot meal, rice-shaped orzo is cooked with stock and butternut squash until it’s tender and creamy, a little like risotto but without as much stirring. Brown butter, lemon zest and sage add depth of flavor, while red-pepper flakes give this zip and heat. An optional dollop of ricotta intensifies the creaminess but feel free to skip it for a lighter dish. This recipe also works well as a hearty side for roasted meats and fish.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 4tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾cup thinly sliced shallots (2 to 3), or use onion or leek
- 1small (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (3 cups)
- 1tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves, or 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary or marjoram, plus more for serving if you like
- 1teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt, plus more as needed
- ¼teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
- ¼teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
- 3cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
- 1 ½cup uncooked orzo
- 1lemon, zested and halved
- 2tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- ½cup whole-milk ricotta (optional)
Step 1In a medium Dutch oven, or a large (12-inch) skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the foam subsides, the milk solids turn golden brown and it smells nutty and toasty, 3 to 4 minutes. (Watch carefully to see that it doesn’t burn.)
Step 2Stir in shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add squash, sage, a large pinch of salt, the 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and the 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, and cook until squash is golden at the edges and begins to soften, 12 to 17 minutes.
Step 3Add stock and bring to a simmer. Stir in orzo, lemon zest and the 1 teaspoon salt. Cover the pan and simmer over medium-low heat until orzo is just tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 14 to 18 minutes, stirring once or twice. If the pan dries out before the orzo and squash are tender, add a splash or two of water.
Step 4Remove pan from heat and stir in Parmesan. Taste and add more salt if needed, and a squeeze of lemon juice if the dish needs brightness. Dollop with ricotta if using, and sprinkle with more grated Parmesan and black pepper just before serving, garnishing the top with more red-pepper flakes and sage.