Autumn Orzo with Caramelized Vegetables

by Amy on 20 October 2015

Autumn Orzo with Caramelized Vegetables | www.FearlessHomemaker.comDo y’all cook with orzo? This rice-shaped pasta is one of my pantry stapes that I love so much for its versatility. It works great in quick homemade soups, it’s excellent in pasta salads, and fantastic in baked pastas and casseroles. Plus, it’s very popular in our home because it’s much easier for toddlers to scoop up and eat than long pastas (like spaghetti and fettuccine) are. I had a half-pound of orzo hanging around my pantry last week and decided to use it in a new-to-me recipe, highlighting some of my favorite ingredients — a meatless fall pasta dish with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, kale, ginger, onions, and garlic, all glazed with a super savory soy/balsamic sauce.

And goodness, this meatless meal turned out amazing. It is hearty, earthy, and full of umami. The combination of textures and flavors between the tender pasta, perfectly-cooked vegetables, delicious soy/balsamic glaze, and a bit of creamy parmesan is simply perfection. While this would be a great side dish, I like it best as a main dish – there is enough complexity and flavor in this recipe to have it shine as the entree, in my  humble opinion. And like many of my favorite recipes, this one was fantastic, in part, because of how good the leftovers were. The flavors seemed to get deeper + more complex after a day in the fridge, and it reheated beautifully and quickly. A meal that’s scrumptious on the first night AND makes for fabulous leftovers is always appreciated in this household.

Autumn Orzo with Caramelized Vegetables | www.FearlessHomemaker.comAutumn Orzo with Caramelized Vegetables |

Autumn Orzo with Caramelized Vegetables

serves 4-6, adapted from The Kitchn


kosher salt
1/2 pound orzo pasta
3 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil, divided
1 large sweet potato (about 3/4 pound), peeled + diced into 1/4″ cubes
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled + grated
8 ounces cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, stems removed + caps sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning (OR 1 teaspoon fresh Italian herb blend)
3 cups finely-chopped kale (ribs/stems removed)
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan*, plus more for garnish/topping

*Note: If you want to make this recipe vegetarian, make sure you choose a Parmesan (or comparable cheese) made with animal-free rennet, like this or this.


Heat a large pot of water to boiling and salt it generously. Cook the orzo until al dente — about 6 to 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat a large pan — you want plenty of room and hot surface – over high heat. (I used my large sauteuse, quite possibly my favorite piece of cookware). Add 2 tablespoons of grapeseed or vegetable oil (NOT olive oil — it will smoke at this heat) and heat. Add the diced sweet potatoes and cook at high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and push the sweet potatoes up in a pile against one side of the pan (see original recipe’s step-by-step pictures).

Add the diced onions to the center of the pan and sprinkle them lightly with kosher salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger and stir them into the onions, cooking for 1 minute more. Push the onion mixture off to the side of the pan, next to the sweet potatoes, where they will continue to caramelize.

Add the sliced cremini mushrooms to the center of the pan, sprinkle lightly with salt, and cook them for 7-8 minutes, stirring just a few times, until they are softened, browning, and fragrant. Add the chopped kale to the pan, and stir all of the pan vegetables together, cooking for 2-3 minutes, until the kale is wilted.

Add the vinegar, soy sauce, herbs/italian seasoning, + remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the vegetables, and turn the heat up to high. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the cooked orzo pasta, and cook for 2-3 minutes more, stirring constantly to get everything well-combined.

Remove the pan from heat, stir in the grated Parmesan and add salt/pepper to taste. Serve immediately, topping with more Parmesan, if desired.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katrina October 20, 2015 at 5:58 am

I love orzo! And this pasta dish – definitely perfect for fall :)

2 sarah k @ the pajama chef October 20, 2015 at 10:43 am

this looks gorgeous and sounds even better, amy! love it!

3 Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today October 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm

So tempting, need to try it!

4 Amy (Savory Moments) October 21, 2015 at 5:46 am

This is a lovely autumn dish, Amy! I do enjoy orzo – it’s so versatile.

5 Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie October 21, 2015 at 7:31 am

Loving this. I would leave out the mushrooms though, but otherwise looks like the perfect side dish! Honestly I’d prob eat enough of it to be an entire meal.

6 Amy October 21, 2015 at 8:38 am

My husband and daughter agree with you — neither of them are huge mushroom lovers. But I am! =D

7 Adri October 21, 2015 at 5:14 pm

I love orzo, and this whole recipe sounds wonderful. Caramelized veggies are so tasty. That depth of flavor just can’t be beat. This is a terrific way to get the little one to eat veggies!

8 Meghan October 21, 2015 at 8:40 pm

This dish screams Fall! Caramelized vegetables are so good and I’m loving all the flavors involved!

9 Beth October 25, 2015 at 5:51 am

This looks amazing, Amy! You and I must have the same taste buds, because every time I visit your blog I see something I want to try. Love the idea of all the leftovers with this one, too!

10 Amy October 25, 2015 at 2:43 pm

We definitely have similar taste buds – I think that often when I visit your blog, too! =)

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