This cheesy orzo pasta bake is comfort food on a plate, with a slightly healthy twist. With lots of cheese and veggies, it's a great vegetarian meal.
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Pasta is for us, like many I’m sure, a common fallback meal. You know, those days when either plans don’t quite work out or you get to almost dinner time and have no idea what you are eating. Pasta often helps us out.
The only problem with that is we tend to end up having it only two ways: with pesto or bolognese (meat sauce). True, I make both from scratch and they are good, but I have been trying to mix things up a bit to add some variety recently. I previously made a tasty chard pesto and mozzarella orzo bake and took this as inspiration for something new.
This cheesy orzo pasta bake with roast tomatoes and squash is just that. It’s a comforting, hearty dish that’s perfect for colder weather, but those fresh little bursts of tomato also lighten it up too.
True it takes more time than a super-simple pasta, but it’s easy and much of that time is hands-off. And it sneaks in some healthy veggies too.
It might be surprising to some, but I wasn’t brought up with mac and cheese - it’s just not really a thing in the UK, where I am from. We had cauliflower cheese instead, but that’s one for another post.
What it means, though, is it’s not something I ever really make, as I’m not the biggest fan. It crossed my mind that I might be making my son miss out, but I have found when he has tried it elsewhere, he doesn’t seem to like it. How that’s the case when we are big cheese fans, I don’t know, but there you go.
This pasta bake is something that both works for us and I think would please the mac and cheese lovers as well. It’s a comforting dish that meets the cheesiness you might be craving, but without the traditional sauce that we’re not such fans of here.
Instead, it has a sauce made with roasted squash, with chunks of gooey mozzarella and bursts of roasted tomato throughout.
This cheesy orzo pasta bake is comfort food on a plate, with a slightly healthy twist. Plus it’s perfect for Meatless Monday as well. So many excuses to give it a try!
Like comforting pasta dishes? Try these!
- Creamy lemon chicken pasta bake
- Bacon onion spaetzle
- Spicy sausage pasta skillet
- Pulled pork stuffed shells
- Plus try more comforting ideas in the fall recipes and winter recipes archives.
Cheesy orzo pasta bake
- 10 oz cherry tomatoes 285g, or grape tomatoes, 1 dry pint
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 oz butternut squash 340g, peeled weight, approx 1lb before peeling and de-seeding
- 2 tablespoon heavy cream
- 2 tablespoon light stock or water
- 8 oz orzo 225g
- 4 oz mozzarella 110g, suggest mini balls so less to cut
- 1 oz parmesan grated, 30g
- Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Cut the tomatoes in half and put them in a small baking dish. Toss with the oil and turn them cut side up then sprinkle over the thyme and salt. Roast for approx 20-25min until soft and mildly caramelizing. Leave the oven on.
- Meanwhile, cut the squash into chunks and steam until tender. Blend to a puree and add the cream and stock.
- Cook the orzo per package instructions then mix through the butternut squash sauce.
- Cut the mozzarella into chunks and toss them, plus the cooked tomatoes, carefully through the orzo. Pour into a baking dish, top with the parmesan and bake to crisp up the cheese, approx 15-20min.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
This recipe for cheesy orzo pasta bake was originally created for Sunday Supper Movement where I am a contributor.