Orzo Salad with roasted pumpkin & onion
October is here!!! No sign of the weather getting even remotely cooler in this part of the world but still it’s the month of Halloween and pumpkins. I have to say though, that I am not a big fan of the classic pumpkin dishes like pumpkin pie, pumpkin latte, pumpkin bread etc. maybe because I didn’t grow up with all these recipes around me. So I will try to come up with some not so classic but interesting pumpkin recipes this month.
Today’s post is about an Orzo salad which has fantastic sweetish flavors from roasted pumpkin and onions. The way I prepare onions for this dish is pretty unique. I paired the onions with balsamic vinegar and fennel seeds and roasted them in the oven till they got caramelized with a soft inside and got slightly charred on the edges. The sweetness from the onion and the tang from the vinegar complimented by a slight liquorice flavor from the fennel seeds made for a real treat for the taste buds. Use a generous glug of vinegar on the onions because you want some of it to collect at the bottom of the pan after the onions have been cooked in the oven – that liquid becomes the dressing for this salad. Also, I left the onions in fairly big size (halves) which made it look more interesting and gave it that character of soft insides and charred edges.
I also used a lot of fresh basil in this salad (almost like adding roughly chopped spinach or kale to some salad), so you will get a relatively strong flavor but it blends really well with everything else.
Although I didn’t add any cheese to the salad but something tangy/salty like feta or goat cheese should taste pretty great with it. Give this recipe a try this pumpkin season and I hope you like it as much as I do!
Serving for 2 people
Cooking time 10 minutes plus 40 minutes for roasting the veggies
1 small pumpkin, peeled and diced into bite size pieces
3 to 4 small red onions, peeled and cut into halves
1 cup orzo (uncooked)
a large bunch of basil
a few cloves of garlic
a good glug of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- In a baking dish or tray add the diced pumpkin and garlic. Drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle some salt and mix well using you hands – make sure all the pumpkin pieces are coated well with the oil.
- In a separate baking bowl add halved onions and drizzle with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You want the vinegar to coat the onions and collect a little at the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle salt, sugar and fennel seeds.
- Bake both pumpkin and onions in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes or till they both are cooked through. The onions should be slightly charred on the edges.
- Cook orzo (just like pasta).
- Tear the basil leaves into bite size pieces.
- In a large mixing bowl add all your ingredients and toss well till everything is coated well in the balsamic vinegar. Serve right away.
Note: Scrape every bit of the liquid collected at the bottom of the baking pan of the onions – this will be the dressing for the salad (since you are not adding any additional olive oil or vinegar).