Sunday, February 24, 2013

Orzotto with Braised Kale and Butternut Squash

Found in the fridge: Green kale, garlic. Found on the washing machine: A butternut squash, shallots, also fabric softener but clearly that had been misplaced from its proper location. Found in the cupboard: Whole wheat orzo, cannellini beans.

Solution: Dinner now, laundry later.

This is one of those meals you can start cooking as soon as you have the first ingredients ready and prepare the rest as you go, which means it manages to pull off that obsession-worthy trifecta of being easy, healthy, and deeply delicious.

Olive oil
1 medium to large shallot, halved lengthwise and sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bunch green kale, sliced into thin ribbons
1 cup diced butternut squash
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1.5 cups flavorful chicken and/or veggie broth
1 rounded cup whole wheat orzo pasta
Salt and white pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a wide saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and saute for 1-2 minutes, until they soften slightly. Add the kale, in batches if the pan isn't big enough to hold it all at once before it starts to wilt, and toss well with the garlic and shallot. Saute, turning occasionally with tongs, until the kale wilts down quite a bit, drizzling with a little more olive oil if necessary.

When the kale has mostly wilted, add the butternut squash. Stir, sprinkling with salt, then add a slosh of broth and cover. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes, uncover, stir, add a slosh more broth, and repeat. Continue this for 15-20 minutes, turning the heat down to low about midway through. (Don't worry the kale mixture sticks to the bottom of the pan a bit now and then—the browning actually makes it taste even better). Add the beans, stir, and continue to cook over low heat for 3-5 more minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit for the flavors to blend.

Meanwhile, bring 1 1/4 cups of broth to boil in a smallish pot. Add the orzo, stir, and cover. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 9 minutes, or according to package directions. (If you double this recipe, you may want to use a bit less broth, or else uncover the pot to let the excess broth evaporate at the end.)

Stir the orzo into the kale and squash mixture and adjust salt to taste. Serve into bowls, and sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese and white pepper.

Serves 2-3.


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  2. "Easy, healthy, and deeply delicious" is the perfect way to describe this dish. So flavorful! I'll be making this again and again for sure.

  3. I have made this twice in two weeks now. I am not certain whether it is delicious enough or not. Clearly I must make it at least 10 or 12 more times to be sure.

  4. It's always important to be thorough in these sorts of situations. Would it matter if the pot was on the right versus left side of the stove? Who knows! Better test it out...