Pumpkin Orzo

pumpkin orzo

Oh boy, the Halloween decorations are already giving way to Thanksgiving wreaths in the craft store aisles. There are strings of plastic maple leaves and spooky carved candles … but most importantly, there are real, live PUMPKINS!

Sure you could carve a jack-o-lantern, or paint a large gourd to set out on your doorstep. But why not bring a pumpkin to the place it really belongs, a.k.a. the kitchen? Pouring through old recipes, I stumbled across this gem from Serious Eats, which I guarantee you’ll be eating time and time again during throughout this pumpkin-rich season. Below are notes on preparing a whole pumpkin, and some slightly adapted instructions.



serves 4, cooking time 40 minutes

  • 8 ounces orzo
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée (about 1 14.5 ounce can) * 
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 30 sage leaves, cut into ribbons
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 20 grinds fresh black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese


  1. In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of broth and 3 cups of water to boil over high heat. Add orzo. Return to a boil and cook for 9 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain and set aside, tossing with a tiny bit of olive oil to prevent clumping.
  2. Meanwhile, sauté shallots and sage in butter for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup of broth and 1/2 cup of milk. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes or so.
  3. Add pumpkin puree to simmering broth and stir well. Add salt, pepper, and remaining 3/4 cup of broth. Reduce heat and simmer on medium low for 10 to 12 minutes, or until sauce reaches desired consistency.
  4. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Remove from heat and add orzo to the skillet, stirring until coated.

*Pumpkin Purée Note: If you’re starting with a fresh pumpkin, slice a 2 – 2.5 lbs pumpkin in half and place cut-side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool and scoop out with a spoon. Puree in a food processor until smooth.


The original author of this recipe intended the result to be a vegan, risotto-like dish. This can still easily be accomplished if you substitute unsweetened almond milk for the whole milk, and use vegan butter and parmesan alternatives for steps two and four. In fact, this might be a good dish to top with umami sprinkles!

When all is said and down, this is a very cheap dish to throw together, averaging $2.10 per serving. It is great as a side with any meat or seasonal produce, and despite the rich and sweet flavors of the pumpkin puree, this orzo is very light on calories. Awesome! More room for turkey and Halloween candy.

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