Autumn mac and cheese with butternut squash, Swiss chard and orzo pasta with a creamy Cotswold cheese sauce.
A few images involving one of my favorite fall and winter vegetables, butternut squash. I found these small, rusty colored butternut squash, called “Honey Nut” at the farmers market. They’re delicious, and not overly sweet because they’ve just been newly harvested.
Pan, or oven roasting brings out their sweetness (and, as a bonus your kitchen is filled with butternut fragrance).
My version of “mac and cheese” that’s as much squash and Swiss chard as pasta, with a light sauce made with rich and bright flavored Cotswold cheese. Recipe follows.
By popular request, I’ll be adding the recipe for this dish in the next day, so keep an eye out on this space.
Here’s the recipe:
Market Orzo “Mac & Cheese”
This is a super quick recipe for when I want “Mac & Cheese” flavor, but a (much) lighter version with a healthy amount of autumn vegetables.
Roasted butternut squash is perfect with its sweet, rich flavor (and filling fiber) to pair with cheese (sweet and bright flavored Cotswold in this case), along with ribbons of lightly steamed Swiss chard. I usually pan roast the squash which is super fast, but you could oven-roast, or use leftover oven-roasted squash as well. Everything is tossed with the orzo pasta in a light buttery sauce, some cheese is tossed in at the end. Finally, serve by topping orzo off with more of the grated sweet and chive-y Cotswold cheese. This way, every bite seems to have a concentration of rich cheese flavor.
(You could certainly use your favorite stove top “mac & cheese” recipe for a more home-style dish, adding the roasted squash and chard just before serving.)
2 cups butternut squash, or about 1/2 of a small squash (peeled and cut into slices)
1 tablespoon olive oil (for pan roasting squash)
3/4 cup orzo pasta (about 1 1/2 cups cooked)
1 1/2 cups Swiss chard, center stem removed and cut crosswise into ribbons
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 small onion, finely minced
1/2 cup grated Cotswold cheese
season with white pepper and sea salt
Set the water for the orzo to boil.
Steam the Swiss chard very lightly, or just until starting to wilt. Use the pasta water as it comes to a boil to steam the chard (placing a colander with the chard over the water), or steam using your favorite method. Remove and place chard ribbons on paper towels to drain/remove excess water.
When water comes to a boil, add orzo cooking as directed until tender. Drain orzo reserving some of the water. Set orzo aside in a bowl, toss with 1/2 T of butter
Meanwhile, in a shallow frying pan add the oil, heat over medium, add the squash in a single layer. Let the squash cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes, or bottom is brown and caramelized. Using tongs, turn the pieces over and cook the other side for another 5 minutes or more until browned and tender. When finished remove pieces to cool, then cut into medium cubes.
In the same pot used for the pasta, add 1 1/2 T of butter and the minced onion, sauté over low heat until translucent. Add a Tablespoon of reserved pasta water at a time to make a light butter sauce.
Take off of the heat and add the cooked orzo, and add more reserved water as needed. Add the cubed squash, then chard, toss. Last, add a handful of grated Cotswold cheese. toss just to distribute. Season to taste,
Divide into two bowls and top with more grated Cotswold cheese. Enjoy!