Right, we’re finally back on the wagon after a bit of an extended Christmas followed by a brief Winter escape from the grey, wetness of Britain into the sunshine and blue skies of Tenerife. After several nights dining outdoors (in short sleeves and short trousers, no less) it’s time to refocus on cooking healthy and tasty food and attempt to shift a bit of the weight that we’ve both gained since our honeymoon.
I though I’d start by creating something that succeeded in two primary areas. (1) “let’s get back to having meat-free Monday”, and (2) “let’s use up the remaining food from our pantry before it gets demolished” – then added in the “make it healthy” and “make it comforting on a wintry night” just to keep me on my toes. I just about managed to resist the urge to make a risotto (all good, as we didn’t have any arborio or carnaroli rice in the cupboard), but as you can see it was a pretty close call.
Instead we had all of the elements of a delicious winter risotto added to some perfectly cooked Orzo pasta instead. I’ve said before that I will never apologise for using the word ‘orzotto’ here – even if it should be saved for pearl barley-based dishes – as that’s what it is to me. Plus, English is a living language and it loves to borrow words from other cultures and misuse them.
The small consolation is that in this case it’s been attached to a delicious bowl of food that’s provided plenty of leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch! Surely that’s got to make it up to anyone who is offended, right?
Once again I make no apologies for the linguistic mashup here - think of this as a bit like a Risotto with a lot less stirring! You still get a tasty bowl of food with a similar texture to rice, supported here by the comforting flavours of squash and mushrooms, offset by the salty, creaminess of Feta cheese.
- 300 g Orzo pasta
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 medium Onion peeled and sliced
- 350 g Butternut Squash peeled and cut into ½ cm cubes
- 2 cloves Garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 20 g Dried Mushrooms rehydrated in hot water
- 200 ml Vermouth or Dry White Wine
- 200 ml Vegetable Stock
- 100 g Cherry Tomatoes halved
- 100 g Spinach
- 10 Sage Leaves
- 20 g Pecan Nuts chopped
- 150 g Feta Cheese
- Parmesan Cheese grated as garnish (option)
Cook the Orzo according to the packet instructions, though I'd recommend knocking a minute or two off of the time as you want it to remain al dente.
Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes until starting to soften.
Add in the butternut squash and garlic and saute for a minute or two before adding in the wine and stock. Bring to the boil and cook for 10-15 minutes until the squash has started to become tender and the liquid has halved in volume.
Add in the softened mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, stir well, then add the spinach on top. Put on a lid and allow to steam for a few minutes before stirring the spinach through the rest of the mixture.
Add in the sage, pecan nuts and cooked orzo. Stir well to ensure everything is well coated and heated through, before crumbling in the feta cheese.
Serve into bowls topped with a grating of parmesan cheese.