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Orzo, Winter Squash, and Applewood-Smoked Bacon

This recipe for orzo, winter squash, and applewood-smoked bacon is from the cookbook, Simply Done, Well Done.

Author Aaron McCargo, Jr. writes:

This dish will keep you in the house on a blustery fall day. I don’t usually go for comfort foods, not because I don’t like them but because they are not generally as highly seasoned as I like, but this orzo is comfort food with a capital C. I love it with roasted chicken or pan-seared flounder. The cheeses make the orzo creamy, offset by the saltiness of the bacon and the sweetness of the squash.

orzo, winter squash, and applewood-smoked bacon - www.cooksandbooksandrecipes.com

orzo, winter squash, and applewood-smoked bacon – Photo credit: Lucy Schaeffer

Cooks&Books&Recipes Editors:

I’m a fan of orzo (the delicious delight of pasta mixed with the fun size of rice), so the idea of adding bacon and winter squash (which I buy already peeled and chopped) sounded like genius. Oh, did I mention the mascarpone? As McCargo notes: “Rich, triple-cream mascarpone cheese is a luxury well worth indulging in every now and then.” I served this last week and already want to cook it again. Easy-to-make indulgence is my kind of recipe.

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Orzo, Winter Squash, and Applewood-Smoked Bacon

Featured Recipe From: Simply Done, Well Done

Yield: Serves 6


  • 2 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash (1 medium squash)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 slices applewood-smoked bacon
  • 2 tablespoons diced shallots
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound orzo
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves


To Prepare: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large roasting pan, toss the cubed squash with the olive oil and roast for 30 to 35 minutes, until fork-tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat in the skillet. Add the shallots to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until they begin to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the squash, scallions, basil, pepper, and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring, until hot and well mixed.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, cook the orzo according to the package directions.

Add the orzo and broth to the skillet and cook until heated through, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and crumble the bacon into the skillet. Add the mascarpone and stir.

In a small bowl, toss the parmesan with the parsley. Sprinkle the parmesan-parsley mixture over each serving.

© 2010 Aaron McCargo, Jr.

Reprinted with permission from Simply Done, Well Done, by Aaron McCargo, Jr., with Mary Goodbody, photography by Lucy Schaeffer (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011)

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