11.03.2012 008

Orzo Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Baby Bella Mushrooms, and Aged Cheddar (recipe adapted from Kerrygold)

Out of all the seasonable vegetables, butternut squash is the one that gets me most excited.  This orzo salad hits all of the right notes for autumn. The flavors of roasted butternut squash and baby bella mushrooms are nicely balanced by the aged cheddar, which is a step up from the usual feta in Mediterranean orzo salads. This would make a delicious Thanksgiving side dish. Serve it warm, but not hot, or else the cheese will melt.

Disclosure: My partner works for Kerrygold’s advertising agency, and they generously send their account team home with plenty of delicious Kerrygold butter and cheese. I am a fan!


  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 8 ounces orzo pasta
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) aged cheddar cheese, grated or small diced cubes (Kerrygold Aged Cheddar Cheese is delicious)
  • 1/2 cup green onions, sliced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar


Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two heavy-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. On the first sheet spread butternut squash out evenly, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. On the second sheet spread mushrooms out evenly, drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast squash for 25 minutes and mushrooms for 20 minutes, or until tender. Lift vegetables on parchment paper off of baking sheet to cool.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a medium sized saucepan. Add the orzo and stir. Cook until it starts to brown. Add 2 cups of water and some kosher salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Mix in rosemary and remove from heat.

In large mixing bowl, add orzo, squash, mushrooms, aged cheddar, and green onions (if using). Mix in remaining three tablespoons olive oil and white wine vinegar, and toss gently. Serve warm or at room temperature.

What’s oishii? “Oishii” (pronounced “oy she”) is the Japanese word for delicious. I love sharing great recipes I develop in my test kitchen. My inspiration comes from cooking magazines (Bon Appétit, Fine Cooking, Food & Wine), cookbooks, blogs, online food communities such as Chowhound.com, popular restaurants, tv shows, friends, and family.

Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite ways to use butternut squash? Have you tried aged cheddar in a pasta salad? We would love to hear from you if you enjoyed this recipe. -Michael

Join “Oishii!” on Facebook