This Acorn Squash was so beautiful, I just wanted to bake and stuff it right away.
The other day, I was dashing through my local Farmer's Market happy to grab the few things I needed just before the tents were going down. With my favorite Honey B canvas bag filled with Autumn produce (Acorn Squash, apples, California Fuyu Persimmons), I had every intention of breaking rank and just sliding through between two of the stalls for a clever short-cut back to my car. It was one of those times when your mind and eyes register words and colors, but it takes a minute for your brain to catch up. I stopped mid-escape, realizing I had just seen a multitude of fall colored pastas. Pastas? Multi-colored? At the farmers market artisanal section? How could I, a giant nerd-ball Italophile obsessed with making homemade pasta, not pull a personal u-turn and check that out?
Even now, after way too many platefuls of golden roasted Acorn squash filled with Harvest Pumpkin and Spice Orzo (simmered in toasted pine nuts, apples and sage) I'm wishing for more.
I am honestly so happy I took that pasta-pause and purchased pumpkin orzo from these wonderful folks: Pappardelles Pasta (say THAT sentence twice, fast.)
Orzo means "barley" in Italian and is called that more for it's shape than anything else. A lot of Italian pasta has a name based on its shape or story behind how it was formed.
Orzo is used in a lot of Mediterranean dishes and served as a warm dish and also in cold pasta salads. I spoke with Kyle Crocker, a really friendly and knowledgeable guy, about how the Pappardelle artisan pasta company makes all its pasta in small batches, by hand or hand machines and air dried in rooms according to the best choice for each pasta shape. This is a company I could love. There were so many different sizes, shapes and flavors I could hardly hold back my Italy-style tears of over dramatic joy.
RECIPE: Roasted Acorn Squash stuffed with Pumpkin Spice Orzo Risotto
1 Acorn Squash
3 oz. butter
1 oz. olive oil (plus more for pan and rubbing squash)
1 shallot (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 cups Orzo (Pappardelles Autumn Harvest)
6 cups Vegetable stock
1 med. apple (peeled, cored, chopped)
dash of ground cinnamon and fresh nutmeg
salt/pepper to taste
Pinch of fresh thyme leaves, fresh chopped parsley, and fresh chopped sage leaves
3 Tbls. pine nuts (toasted)
Preheat oven to 350F
Grease large sheet pan
1) Cut Acorn squash in half and scrape out all seeds and filling. Rub insides of squash halves with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place cut side down on prepared baking sheet and roast in oven for about 1 1/2 hours til inside is tender, but not mushy.
2) In a large skillet, melt butter and olive oil together and saute shallot and garlic on low/med heat until tender (about 5-10 minutes) In the last minute, add apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well.
3) Add Orzo and stir, coating all the grains and heating for about 8 minutes.
4) Gradually pour in Vegetable stock, stirring constantly and incorporating all the flavors.
5) Cook, stirring, for about 15-20 minutes until Orzo has almost doubled in volume and is al dente (or tender to the bite.)
6) Stir in herbs, pine nuts and adjust seasonings.
Serve by filling the acorn squash with the Orzo Risotto and garnish with fresh sage leaves. When plating, scoop a nice serving of Roasted Acorn Squash with each serving of Pumpkin Spice Orzo Risotto, too.
This serves 4-6 with good portions, but could serve more if used as a side dish in a large meal (ie. Thanksgiving or Holiday menus). It's easy to give thanks for this golden toasty, crunchy autumn awesomeness! Happy stuffing.