Serious Eats: Recipes

Pumpkin Orzo with Sage

I just finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, and while I loved it, it's made me genuinely anxious about my dinner's origin. Before, I'd eat anything, up to and including California Condors. Now ... well, if you see a tall, dyspeptic white woman nibbling on a rock outside your apartment, just leave her alone. It's the only food she's fairly certain doesn't have a soul.

Due to this new found neurosis AND an ever-diminishing budget, I'm attempting to cut as much meat as possible out of my diet for the coming year. In the olden days, this would have been difficult, as veggies didn't register on my radar, and one can not live on pasta alone. Fortunately, times have changed. I like produce now, and amassed a few wise vegetarian friends that do some fairly impressive things to tubers, leafy greens, and such.

One of those people is my pal Leigh. A 17-year veteran of vegetarianism, she's a killer cook, and pens a weekly recipe column for Cheap Healthy Good called Veggie Might. This past Thursday, her offering was Pumpkin Orzo with Sage. It looked delicious, so I tried it on my own the night she posted it, making a few pantry-friendly substitutions along the way (butter for vegan margarine, chicken for veggie stock, etc.). And - woof - I wasn't disappointed.

Leigh's food is usually dang good, but this is my favorite of her meals thus far. The combination of sage and pumpkin make it savory, a little sweet, and excellent for a cold day. It has a risotto-like presentation, as well, only a bit creamier because of the puree. Speaking of which: since most of the moistness is coming from the pumpkin instead of the milk or butter, the dish is super, super light (about 315 calories and 7 grams of fat per serving). Best of all, I'm fairly sure no orzo is harmed in the making of the dish. So, I've got that going for me.

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