Recipe Flash: Autumn Pasta Salad

Posted by on Wednesday Nov 18th, 2009 | Print

WEEKNIGHT MENU SUGGESTIONS: Lemon-Garlic Roasted Chicken Breasts; Apple Walnut Cake

The other week I came upon a recipe on Sprouted Kitchen for Spiced Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas. I loved the idea of combining fresh ginger and lime juice with some of the more typically “Fall” dried spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. I used butternut squash instead of the potatoes suggested, since I had it on hand. The result was delicious, if a little less caramelized than I normally like my squash due to all the moisture in the marinade. (If you try Sprouted Kitchen’s version, I might use a slotted spoon to transfer the veggies to the sheet pan instead off pouring out all of its contents).

Since the flavors were what I most admired about this recipe, I was inspired to try it again, this time as part of a dressing for pasta. I sometimes miss tangy, veggie-filled pasta salads once Fall comes around, especially as a bed for simple roasted or grilled chicken. This orzo salad takes two of my favorite autumn veggies—Brussels sprouts and butternut squash–and slow roasts them with all the spices from Sprouted Kitchen’s recipe, then tosses them with a rich, flavorful, autumnal dressing that is more akin to a pesto than a vinaigrette. You can use any pasta you like, but I like the way the orzo absorbs all the flavor of the fresh ginger, bright lime juice, and sweet honey.

From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,

Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipe**

Squash & Sprout Orzo Salad with Ginger-Walnut Dressing
Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

1 small (2 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
One 15-ounce can chickpeas
2 large shallots, sliced
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed, and halved
1 pound orzo

For the vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons ginger, chopped (about 2 inches)
2 garlic cloves, pushed through a press
1 shallot, chopped
1/3 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 lime, juiced
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
dash cayenne pepper
¼ – 1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

On a cookie sheet, combine the squash, chickpeas, shallots, salt, cinnamon, honey, and nutmeg. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with your hands so everything is well covered with spices and oil. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until squash is caramelized but not falling apart.

On another cookie sheet, drizzle the sprouts with oil and season with salt. Roast these at the same time as the squash for about 15 minutes, redistributing occasionally until they are brown and crispy all over.
While the veggies are roasting, pulse the ginger, garlic, shallot, and walnuts together in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the honey, mustard, lime juice, vinegar, salt, and cayenne. Drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing consistency is in between that of vinaigrette and that of a pesto—you don’t want it too thin.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the orzo according to package directions until al dente. Drain and toss the warm pasta with the veggies and the dressing. Taste for seasoning and add any salt as necessary. Serve the pasta warm or at room temperature.

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  • emily

    Yum! I'm a quarter life grad student who eats a lot of chickpeas (cheap! and good at room temp.) so I am excited to try a new variation.

    Thank you ladies so much for your blog – I really enjoy it. I read a lot of other "grown up" food blogs but I find that yours applies to me more in terms of recipes/philosophies/portioning, etc. Cheers!

  • KathyCooks

    Great idea to roast the components of the pasta salad. Too many pasta salads are big mushy messes…

  • nooneputsbabyinthecorner

    I’ve been eating a lot of sprouts lately so I subbed in some sauteed kale instead and the results were fantastic. The salad manages to be hearty but light at the same time. I can’t wait to eat leftovers for dinner tonight!