Posted by Megan | Lunch, Sides, Vegetarian

What a beautiful winter day it is – the sun is out, the leaves are falling and the temperature is just right! Oscar certainly is enjoying basking in the sunlight this morning, taking in all the beauty of the woods behind us (what a lucky boy!). It’s hard to believe yesterday was so gross and rainy and overall, completely disgusting out. Today’s weather is perfect for going to Grand Illumination with friends, tonight! Crisp days like this make me so happy. I’m looking forward to wrapping some Christmas presents, working some Symphonia concerts, then spending the evening with some warm apple cider in Colonial Williamsburg, watching the fireworks!

But of course before doing any of that, it’s important to eat a healthy lunch (terrible segway, I know I know). This is a recipe I picked out because of the two of us, I am the orzo-lover in the household. We had a butternut squash on hand from guess where? Our food box. So we needed something new to make with it and this recipe caught my eye. I suggested it to Will and we decided it would make a great weekly lunch. It’s a nice alternative way to eat the squash, without having to have squash for dinner again. If you’ve got a hankering for orzo or have a lonely butternut squash, give this a whirl!

Cooking Notes: The biggest thing we changed was to use feta instead of blue cheese, which we also used a lot more of than suggested. We also used baby spinach instead of shredding regular spinach, like the recipe suggests. I may suggest chopping the spinach a bit though, just so the pieces aren’t as huge in your salad.

Butternut Squash & Feta Orzo (serves 6; adapted from The Kitchn)
1 small to medium butter squash, cubed
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 cup orzo
2 cups baby spinach, preferably chopped 
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 425 and toss butternut squash cubes in 1 tbsp olive oil. Spread into a single layer on a baking sheet, then bake from 35-40 minutes until squash is tender and starting to brown. While squash bakes, chop spinach and place in a large bowl and set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet until just warm. Toss garlic until soft and fragrant, then remove from heat until ready to use.

Place orzo in a pot and cover with at least 2″ of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cook until tender, about 8-9 minutes. Drain and immediately pour hot orzo on top of the spinach, allowing to sit for a few minutes until spinach begins to wilt. When the squash is done and slightly cooled, add to the pasta. Additionally, pour in feta and the garlic olive oil mix, tossing everything until well combined. Serve warm or cold and enjoy!

Recipe: The Kitchn: Orzo with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Blue Cheese

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