Creamy and delicious, this butternut squash orzo recipe is made stovetop risotto-style. Topped with crispy miso-mustard Brussels sprouts, it’s a flavourful, comforting, and easy plant-based dinner recipe
The First Mess Cookbook
My cookbook is filled with cozy, perfectly seasonal, and delicious plant-based dinner recipes for all types of occasions.
It’s been a few weeks, but me and this cozy dinner are here for you! I truly love the ease of any vegan orzo recipe, and I have definitely been seeking a bit more ease lately. My camera body died and the repair shop told me it would be 4-5 months(!) to get it repaired, so I had no choice but to replace it. Then, my ancient photo editing software and equally ancient computer couldn’t handle all the newness. Everything has been upgraded and now I just have to re-learn how to use it all haha. I always appreciate your patience and understanding!
This creamy butternut orzo recipe is perfect for the season of the CCC: Cozy Comfort Carbs. Orzo cooked risotto-style is weeknight dinner excellence, and you can spin it a bunch of different ways. With this version, we smooth it out with a butternut “cream” and top it with crispy roasted Brussels sprouts that get the miso-mustard-maple treatment–all done in under 1 hour too. I also have a more traditional vegan risotto recipe with mushrooms on the site.
What is orzo?
- It’s a rice shaped pasta that cooks exactly like pasta. Most varieties of orzo that you’ll find on grocery shelves are wheat-based.
- I like to use the basic orzo from Garofalo, but I know that folks have had success making this gluten-free with DeLallo’s GF orzo.
- Orzo vs risotto? As I say above, orzo is pasta. Traditional risotto is based on arborio rice. As the arborio rice is stirred, it releases starch, resulting in a creamy texture.
- Even though orzo is totally different from the arborio rice typically used in risotto, it can still be cooked in the same style! Orzo also releases starch as it is stirred and cooked through.
I’ve made versions of this with a honeynut and a butternut squash, but I bet carrot or sweet potato purées would substitute quite well. You’re only limited by your imagination really. You could also stir in some cooked lentils or beans/chickpeas toward the end for extra protein if you like.
In terms of making a plant-based “cream”: I offer a note on doing it yourself and some recommendations for store bought too (I like nutpods or a rich oat milk). I use lots of spice in the form of chilli, smoked paprika, thyme, and garlic to contrast the mellow squash and orzo. Once you use your blender to make the dairy-free butternut “cream,” everything else happens on the stovetop in one pot.
I hope that you give this one a try! Thanks again for your patience as I get all the new systems sorted out. On top of the new gear, I’m also transitioning over to a new recipe display format here. Slowly but surely we are switching over from scrappy to slightly professional hehe. Thank
Creamy Vegan Orzo Risotto with Butternut Squash
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon light miso
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons grainy or yellow mustard
- 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, halved
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
CREAMY BUTTERNUT ORZO
- ½ cup unsweetened non-dairy creamer OR rich non-dairy milk (such as cashew or oat, see notes)
- 1 cup puréed butternut squash OR cooked butternut squash cubes (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot, fine dice (about ¼ cup diced shallot)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, minced
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes, or to taste (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ lb (227 grams) orzo pasta
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 cups vegetable stock, plus extra
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- As with any recipe on my site that requires vegetable stock, I’d highly recommend making your own using my method here.
- I like to cook a halved squash in the a 400 oven for about 45 minutes, or until tender. Then I scoop out all the flesh and use it in soups, baking, recipes like this, etc! You could also use a heaped cup of roasted squash cubes.
- This recipe may behave differently with a gluten-free orzo or other tiny pasta. Regular wheat-based pasta lets off a creamy starch. If you’re using GF pasta, I’d start with only 1 ½ cups of the vegetable stock and add more as it cooks if necessary. I have heard that DeLallo’s GF orzo is great!
- Some vegan “parm” would be delicious to serve alongside this dish! I have a recipe here. Some toasted sliced almonds would be such a lovely touch on top of this dish As well! About 1/4 cup would do the job.
- For a quick non-dairy “cream” to use here, blend 1/4 cup raw cashews with 1/3 cup water in a high speed blender until smooth. I also like unsweetened nutpods creamer or a rich oat milk if you’re looking for a store bought option.
CRISPY MISO MUSTARD BRUSSELS SPROUTS
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, miso, maple syrup, and mustard until combined.
- Place all of the Brussels sprouts on the lined baking sheet and pour the miso and mustard mixture over top. Season with salt and pepper and toss the sprouts to coat evenly in the mixture.
- Slide the baking sheet into the oven. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 minutes or until tender and deep golden brown on the edges. Keep warm.
CREAMY BUTTERNUT ORZO
- While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, make the creamy butternut orzo. First, make the butternut cream. In an upright blender, combine the non-dairy creamer, butternut squash, and nutritional yeast. Blend this mixture on high until completely smooth. Set aside.
- Place a deep skillet or braiser-style pot over medium heat. Once it's hot, pour in the olive oil. Add the shallot to the pot and stir. Cook shallots until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, chili flakes (if using), and smoked paprika. Stir and cook until the garlic is quite fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the orzo pasta and stir to coat in the spices and shallots. Season the mixture liberally with salt and pepper.
- Add the vegetable stock to the pot and stir. Bring the orzo to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, until orzo is soft, about 8 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot often. The orzo will want to stick to the bottom of the pot! Just keep stirring and adding more vegetable stock if necessary. You want to keep the consistency nice and fluid.
- Once the orzo is soft and the mixture is starting to get creamy, add the butternut cream to the pot and stir to combine. Bring the orzo back up to a simmer. Add the lemon juice to the creamy butternut orzo and stir. Check the dish for seasoning and adjust if necessary (more salt, chili, lemon etc). Stir in the chopped parsley and top with the roasted Brussels sprouts. Serve immediately!