This Fall orzo salad features perfectly el dente whole wheat orzo, roasted butternut squash, apple chicken sausage, and garlic sautéed spinach and kale tossed with lemon juice and olive oil. It’s a simple but flavorful side dish perfect for Fall!
Fall Orzo Salad
This Fall orzo salad is a fresh, relatively easy, and satisfying meal that features warm and familiar Fall flavors. The star ingredient is sweet and earthy roasted butternut squash – one of my favorite Fall vegetables. It also showcases apple chicken sausage, hearty greens, like spinach and kale, bright lemon juice, rich extra virgin olive oil, tons of freshly grated parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts and whole wheat orzo. Oh and just a pinch of fresh nutmeg to compliment and bring out those Fall flavors.
Every time I make orzo I remember just how much I love it. Orzo looks much like a grain but is actually a pasta made from durum flour. It’s a plumb, tender pasta that takes on flavor beautifully. I prefer to buy the whole grain kind because it has a heartier texture and adds nutrients and fiber to the dish.
The combination of these flavors creates a delicious, healthy Fall dish!
Ingredients in the dish
This dish is full of delicious Fall flavors:
- butternut squash
- apple chicken sausage, I buy fresh sausage in it’s casings and remove the casings (Fresh Thyme has a great selection of fresh chicken sausage)
- whole wheat orzo (also found at Fresh Thyme)
- chicken broth
- spinach and kale blend
- toasted pine nuts
- lemon juice and zest
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
- freshly grated nutmeg
How to Make this Fall Orzo Salad
This dish is relatively simple to make. It just takes a few steps.
First, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the cubed butternut squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I kept the seasonings simple for the butternut squash because slowing baking it brings out it’s natural sweet, nutty, and earthy flavors. Roast it for 25-30 minutes. It’s done when it’s slightly caramelized on the outside and tender on the inside.
While the butternut squash bakes, you can cook the other components of the dish. The first step is to bring the chicken broth to a boil. I use chicken broth instead of water because it adds much more flavor to the dish! Add the whole wheat orzo and cook for 7 minutes or until el dente.Once cooked, rinse the orzo, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. This is liquid gold, beautifully flavored and starchy from the pasta, and will help create our sauce at the end.
While the orzo and squash cook (this recipe is all about multitasking!), heat about a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken sausage, using your spatula to break it into chunks, and cook until golden brown on the outside and cooked all the way through. Remove from pan and wipe pan clean if necessary. Add another 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add the shallots, cooking until the shallots are translucent. Finally, add in the spinach/kale blend and garlic and cook until the greens are cooked down and wilted and the garlic becomes potent and flavorful.
Add in the orzo pasta, chicken sausage, and roasted butternut squash to the pan so they can join this fun, festive Fall party.
Now, the sauce for this dish is super simple but wonderfully flavorful. Remember, we already have garlic and shallots in this pan, which help create a lot of the sauces flavors. To complement those flavors, we also add the reserved pasta liquid (aka, our liquid gold), about 1/2 cup of it, 2 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, and juice of half a medium lemon (plus all the zest). That’s it! Super simple but oh so satisfying!
Other delicious Fall Inspired Recipes
- The BEST Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Pancakes
- Fig and Bacon Flatbread
- Fall Harvest and Apple Salad
This Fall Orzo salad makes a delicious, simple, and healthy side dish (or even a whole meal)!
If you make this Fall Orzo Salad, please leave a comment below. I absolutely love to hear from you guys and your thoughts on my recipes. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or pin it on pinterest, cuz sharing is caring!
Fall Orzo Salad
For orzo salad
- 2 1/2-3 cups cubed butternut squash
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 1/2 tsp salt divided
- 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups whole wheat orzo
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 lb apple chicken sausage casings removed, other flavors work as well
- 5 oz bag spinach and baby kale blend
- half large shallot finely chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2-1 cup reserved cooking liquid the broth from the orzo
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- juice of one medium lemon
- zest of one medium lemon
- 1/2 cup freshly shaved parmesan plus more for topping
- 1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- 3-4 basil leaves finely chopped, optional
- fresh grated pepper optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
Toss the cubed butternut squash with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread out on baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, flipping occasionally, until tender on the inside and carmalized onthe outside. During the last few minutes of cooking, add the pine nuts to the sheet pan and roast until slighly browned.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring the chicken broth and large pinch of salt to a soft boil over medium high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 7-9 minutes or until el dente. Once cooked, drain the orzo, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
While the orzo and butternut squash cook, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken sauage, breaking it up with your spatula into crumbles, and cook until slightly browned on the outside and cooked throroughly on the inside, about 5 minutes. Onced cooked, remove from the pan.
Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add in shallots and cook until transluccent, 2-4 minutes. Add in the garlic, kale/spinach blend, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the garlic is fragrant and the greens cooked down and wilted, 2-3 minutes.
To the skillet with the garlic shallot mixture, add in the orzo, butternut squash, and chicken sasauge. Toss with 1/2 cup cooking liquid, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining dressing ingredients and toss until well-combined. If it seems too dry, add in more pasta liquid.
Garnish with pine nuts and extra parmesan cheese.