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Butternut Squash Orzo Salad

This vegan orzo recipe is laced with onions and kale, all tied together in a creamy butternut squash sauce. My go-to side dish that I know everyone at the table will love!

A white bowl filled with butternut squash orzo salad

As it turns out, new knifes can be very sharp. And when the dangerous combination of a new knife, a stubborn butternut squash, and a sometimes-maybe-always-clumsy cook come together, finger near-fatalities occur. So yea, I had an introduction to Dutch healthcare in the form of an emergency room shortly after diving into this recipe last week.

But all is well now! I’ve got all my fingers + a big ole bandage + some smaller bandages, and I’m typing away with my seven scathe-free fingers as a high speed train zips me south to my parents’ home in Germany. Fortunately for the boyfriend-tulip-man, I made hoards of this creamy orzo before I left, so he’ll be having reheated orzo ALL WEEK!

A white bowl filled with butternut squash orzo salad

The orzo itself is compliments of the boyfriend-tulip-man’s mama, the Dutch-tulip-mama, who always manages to slip us a tasty kitchen treat, whether it be extra virgin olive oil or Dutch stewed pears, when we visit for our weekly dinners.

I’d forgotten orzo even existed until she cooked it up one night. So now that I’ve remembered its existence, be prepared for more orzo. So much more orzo.

Mashing cooked butternut squash with a potato masher in a cast iron skillet
A bed of chopped kale and diced white onion in a cast iron skillet
A cast iron skillet filled with cooked kale and white onion, butternut squash, orzo, and various spices
A cast iron skillet filled with cooked kale and white onion, butternut squash, orzo, and various spices
A white bowl filled with butternut squash orzo salad
A white bowl filled with butternut squash orzo salad

Butternut Orzo Salad

Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes, Pastas, Side Dishes
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: butternut squash orzo, orzo and kale, orzo salad, vegan orzo
Diet: Dairy-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Occasion: Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving
Time: 45 minutes or less
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 427kcal
Author: Sarah Bond
3.67 from 3 votes


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil divided, 30 mL
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 lb uncooked orzo aka risoni, 453 g
  • 1 cup diced white onions 90 g
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced or minced
  • 4 cups finely chopped kale 360 g
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese 100 g
  • ¼ tsp each salt and pepper


  • Butternut: Peel, seed, and dice the butternut. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium/high heat in a large skillet, then add butternut. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until butternut is fork-tender, 10 to 15 minutes. When finished, roughly mash half of the butternut, then remove it from pan and wipe clean.
  • Orzo: Meanwhile, cook orzo according to the instructions on package, about 10 minutes. Strain, cover, and set aside.
  • Saute: Heat remaining 1 Tbsp of oil over medium heat in your skillet. Add onion and garlic, cooking until soft, about 5 minutes. Add kale, cover, and cook until kale wilts and is soft, 5 minutes.
  • Assemble: Stir together butternut, sautéed kale mixture, orzo, feta, salt, and pepper.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 427kcal | Carbohydrates: 74.4g | Protein: 13.7g | Fat: 8.8g | Saturated Fat: 2.6g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 260mg | Potassium: 590mg | Fiber: 5.6g | Sugar: 7.4g | Calcium: 174mg | Iron: 4mg
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Recipe Rating

  1. Charla @ That Girl Cooks Healthy says:

    What beautiful pictures, anything with kale in has my name written ALL over it.5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks, Charla! I wish I felt the same way about kale! I have to sneak it into my recipes to make myself eat it sometimes 🙂

  2. My goodness! I love how creamy this looks… without cream! Great idea with the potato and pumpkin. Also, I have never thought of using nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor – wonderful!

    1. Sarah says:

      Oh yes nutritional yeast makes things so so cheesy! But the recipe totally works without it too 🙂

  3. Noel says:

    Wow! This looks so easy, and so yummy!
    lovely kale dish

    stumbled and yummed!4 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks for sharing, Noel!!

  4. Amy says:

    This is amazing! Thank you for creating this awesome dish!

    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks, Amy!! So happy to hear you liked it!! 🙂

  5. Ali says:

    I have to be honest: I didn’t love this. It’s a lot of carbs on top of carbs and I didn’t think the orzo stood up well to such a heavy sauce, though that’s partly because I used a gluten-free variety which is softer. It was also a little too savory so I added some lemon juice and extra kale to absorb some of the sauce, but it tasted to me like butternut squash soup on top of a delicate pasta that would be better prepared simply. My husband said, “I think I would like this better with olive oil and lemon.” Thank you for sharing, but not my favorite.2 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Sorry to hear you didn’t love it, Ali! Hopefully it at least gave you some ideas for future dinners, even if they don’t involve combining butternut and orzo 🙂