Picture the leaves turning yellow and the air getting cooler… it’s the perfect time for a cozy meal. That’s where Roasted Pumpkin Orzo with Crispy Prosciutto steps in. It’s a warm, comforting dish that captures the flavors of fall in every bite. Easy to prepare and super creamy without addition of cream!
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
- Flavor balance: By roasting the pumpkin, we intensify its natural sweetness, which pairs brilliantly with the crunch of crispy prosciutto and creamy orzo.
- Creaminess without cream: The homemade pumpkin sauce, born from roasted pumpkin, onion and garlic, lends a luxurious creaminess to the orzo without relying on cream.
- Easy to prepare: Despite its gourmet appearance, this recipe is surprisingly straightforward to prepare. It suits both weeknight dinners and special occasions, ensuring that you can enjoy restaurant-quality flavors from the comfort of your own home.
WHAT IS ROASTED PUMPKIN ORZO
Roasted Pumpkin Orzo is a delicious autumn-inspired pasta dish that brings together the sweetness of roasted pumpkin, saltiness of crispy prosciutto, and the comfort of orzo pasta. This recipe is all about balance – the roasted, caramelized pumpkin is transformed into a creamy sauce that coats the orzo. Topped with crumbled crispy prosciutto, roasted pumpkin cubes and fresh herbs, it’s a perfect balance of textures and flavours.
BEST INGREDIENTS FOR ROASTED PUMPKIN ORZO
- Pumpkin: Look for small cooking pumpkins, which offer sweet and tender flesh. Ensure they are firm, blemish-free, and have a vibrant color.
- Prosciutto: Choose high-quality thinly sliced prosciutto for the crispiest results.
- Orzo: Select good-quality orzo pasta with even-sized, uniform grains for consistent cooking. Look for reputable brands that ensure quality.
- Herbs: Use fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage to add amazing aroma to the dish.
- Olive Oil: Use extra-virgin olive oil for its rich flavor. Look for a reputable brand that offers quality and freshness.
- Garlic: Look for fresh garlic bulbs with plump, firm cloves. Avoid garlic that feels soft or has green sprouts.
- Chicken broth: Use chicken or vegetable for cooking orzo.
- Parmesan cheese: For the best flavor, use freshly grated parmesan cheese.
HOW TO MAKE ROASTED PUMPKIN ORZO
Please note: This is just an overview – the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Roast the pumpkin
Place your pumpkin cubes, onion chunks, and garlic cloves on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and your choice of fresh herbs. Roast at 200°C/390°F for about 30 minutes until the pumpkin is tender and beautifully caramelized. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside. You can save a small piece of roasted pumpkin, cubed, to use as a garnish for the orzo later.
Step 2: Crispy prosciutto
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto slices and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until they turn irresistibly crispy. Transfer the crispy prosciutto to a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil.
Step 3: Cook the orzo
In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Add the orzo pasta and cook according to the package instructions until it reaches the perfect al dente stage, usually around 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally, and don’t worry if the orzo absorbs most of the broth; that’s the plan!
Step 4: Create the pumpkin sauce
Peel the skin off the roasted pumpkin and transfer the pumpkin flesh, along with the onion and garlic, to a blender. Add ½ cup of chicken broth to the blender. Blend until you have a smooth and velvety sauce.
Step 5: Combine and Finish
Pour the pumpkin sauce into the cooked orzo. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Turn off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and the grated parmesan cheese.
Step 6: Serve and garnish
Serve Roasted Pumpkin Orzo immediately, topping each portion with crumbled crispy prosciutto. Don’t forget to garnish with a sprinkle of fresh herbs like parsley and thyme.
STORING AND FREEZING TIPS
To store this delicious dish, simply place any remaining orzo in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, gently reheat it in a pan on the stove over low heat, adding a bit of broth or water to restore its creamy consistency.
If you’re planning for the longer term, let the dish cool completely, portion it into airtight containers or freezer-safe bags, and label them with the date. This way, you can freeze your Roasted Pumpkin Orzo with Crispy Prosciutto for up to 2-3 months, ensuring you have a taste of autumn whenever you desire.
- Pumpkin selection: Choose a small, fresh cooking pumpkin. Their sweet, tender flesh is perfect for this dish.
- Even orzo cooking: Cook the orzo until al dente. It should absorb most of the broth, but avoid overcooking, which can result in mushy pasta.
- Fresh herbs: Use fresh herbs whenever possible for the best flavor. Rosemary, thyme, and sage are classic choices that complement the pumpkin.
- Crispy prosciutto: Keep a close eye on the prosciutto while crisping it up; it can quickly go from crispy to burnt.
- Creamy consistency: If the orzo becomes too thick, add a bit more chicken broth or water to achieve your desired creamy consistency.
- Green salad: Consider serving it with a light green salad dressed with a lemony vinaigrette. Arugula, mixed greens, or roasted vegetables can add extra freshness and color.
- Wine pairing: For an adult touch, pair it with a glass of crisp white wine like Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, which complements the dish’s richness.
- Roasted vegetables: Roasted asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or carrots make great accompaniments, adding depth and variety to the meal.
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Can I use canned pumpkin puree instead of roasting a pumpkin?
While fresh roasted pumpkin is recommended for the best flavor, you can use canned pumpkin puree in a pinch. Just ensure it’s 100% pure pumpkin without added spices or sugar.
What can I substitute for prosciutto if I don’t eat pork?
If you prefer a non-pork option, you can substitute prosciutto with beef or turkey bacon for a similar salty crunch.
Is there a vegan version of this dish?
Yes, you can make a vegan version by using vegetable broth, dairy-free butter, and plant-based Parmesan cheese alternatives.
Can I make this dish ahead for a dinner party?
Absolutely! You can prepare the pumpkin sauce and crispy prosciutto in advance. Cook the orzo just before serving, and then assemble everything for a warm, delicious meal.
Did you make it?
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