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Sick Of Leftovers? We Found Your New Fall Dinnertime Fave

Food52 helps people become better, smarter, happier cooks. It was named Best Food Publication at the 2012 James Beard Awards and Best Culinary Website at the 2013, 2014, and 2015 IACP Awards.
embedFallOrzoUntitled-1Photo: JAMES RANSOM/ COURTESY OF Food52.
Food52 helps people become better, smarter, happier cooks. Food52 was named 2012 Publication of the Year by the James Beard Foundation and won Best Culinary Website at the 2013 IACP awards.
I'm one of those weird people who actually orders salads in restaurants. To others, this probably sounds nuts, but washing and drying lettuces and finely chopping up veggies is my equivalent of measuring and spooning for those who hate to bake. Then, there is the end product problem. You wash, you chop, you arrange, and you dress, and what are you left with really? A side dish. Jenny’s cost benefit analysis concludes: nope.
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But I’ve made an exception with this lovely orzo salad, which mixes minimal effort with enough substance to provide an entire weeknight meal for a family of four, or dinner for you and yours with lunch leftovers. You'll see the bulk of this baby comes from orzo, the world’s most versatile pasta, and butternut squash, which I highly recommend buying already cubed if you really wanted to keep your effort to a minimum. (The other options are to cube in the morning before work, or, my personal favorite, to fob this task off on someone else.)
From there, you're popping your veggies in the oven while you wash up some arugula and crumble some cheese, and — at least in my case — go pick the last of your sage from the garden, which no doubt has stubbornly resisted the entreaties of fall, which has no doubt slapped your wimpy basil and tarragon into seasonal submission. Start your orzo at some point, too. My squash took close to 40 minutes to cook; cut it smaller if you want to lessen cook time.
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Don’t hate me, Meatless Monday-ers, but I also tucked some chicken rubbed with salt, pepper, and garlic powder into the oven and chopped it up as an addition to this salad, just to give it the full-meal finish. No pepitas? No problem. The best part of this whole deal, in my view, is the blue cheese, which replaces the glop of dressing with a burst of fat and tang, and pairs beautifully with the squash. Did I use about twice what was called for? In fact I did. I said I love salad; I didn’t say I loved virtue.
Serves 6 to 8
2 pounds butternut squash, cut into bite-sized cubes
1/4 pound orzo
2 ounces Maytag blue cheese
1/4 cup oil (scant)
1 bunch fresh sage leaves
Fresh cracked pepper and coarse kosher, sea, or alder salt
1 bunch watercress, arugula, or any microgreen
1 ounce roasted pepitas
To see the full recipe (and print it!), click here.
This article originally appeared on Fall Orzo Salad with Butternut Squash & Blue Cheese