Nov 22, 2011

When Pigs Cry

In case you haven't noticed, Louisiana isn't exactly bursting at its seams with vegetarians.  (We burst our seams in other ways.)  We use smoked sausage like salt.  You know, a seasoning.

While no one in my family keeps a vegetarian diet, I have a friend --and I do mean "a" as in one...single...only--who is a vegetarian.  Was vegan for a while, actually.  I find myself wondering how he does that here.  (He's a transplant.)  At times he's faced the awkwardness of having to bring his own food to dinner parties.  Once, he was reduced to picking the rice out of jambalaya--not vegetarian, but it was the best he could do.  But mostly he has to settle for the side dishes.  And even then...

"Oh.  You don't eat meat?" (Cue gasping and chest clutching--a sign that maybe we should take a lesson from my vegetarian friend?)  "Well, have some potato salad.  It doesn't have any meat."

"Ummm...isn't that bacon?"

"Only a little.  You'll be fine, cher."

Did I mention my friend is also Jewish?

It makes me wonder what happens when he sits down to a traditional Cajun Thanksgiving with his in-laws.  Even our sides end up with hefty helpings of some form of pork.  Bacon.  Andouille.  Tasso.  Pickle meat.

This dish, though, is pig free.

Actually, it's pretty loaded down with veggies.  The kind I like best.  The roasted kind. 

It's a "use it up" sort of recipe--you know the type.  Grab what's in the produce drawer and toss it in.

This time around I used red onion, zucchini, mushrooms, and butternut squash.  Sometimes I used sweet potatoes in place of the butternut, yellow squash instead of zucchini, and/or add broccoli and carrots.

Anything's fair game.  Fire up the old brain and think about what takes longest to roast (butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots) and which the shortest (mushrooms & zucchini) and you're on your way. 

Spare the pig and refrain from adding bacon. 
A little feta and toasted pecans really make this dish shine.

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Orzo "Risotto" w/ Roasted Vegetables
adapted from Family Circle Healthy Home-Style Cooking

olive oil
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" cubes
3 medium zucchini, cut in half moon chunks
8 oz mushrooms, cut in half or quarters if large
1 red onion, cut into thin wedges
1 TBSP fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried & crushed
1 TBSP olive oil
2 (14 oz) cans reduced sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian dish)
1 1/3 c orzo
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c (heaping) chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 c crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 425.  Place squash in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper and toss again.  Place on a large baking sheet in one layer.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, turning halfway through.  While the squash roasts, add the zucchini, mushrooms, onion, and rosemary to the bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss.  Season with salt and pepper, toss again, and add to the baking sheet with the squash.  Bake for an additional 12-15 minutes, turning halfway through, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned. 

Meanwhile, bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Cover and simmer.  Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a large skillet.  Cook orzo and garlic over medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until orzo is light brown.  Stir frequently.

Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to orzo.  Cook, stirring frequently over medium to medium low heat until liquid is absorbed.  Continue with this process, adding 1/2 cup broth at a time until orzo is tender and creamy, about 15-20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add roasted vegetables and pecans to orzo mixture, folding gently to combine.  Sprinkle each serving with feta.

*Try other vegetables such as sweet potatoes, yellow squash, carrots, or broccoli.

*The vegetables can be roasted ahead of time and reheated before adding to the orzo.

Linking up with:
Tuesdays at the Table @ All The Small Stuff
Tasty Tuesday @ Naptime Creations
Let's Do Brunch @ My Sweet & Savory
Hearth and Soul vol 75 @ Mom's Sunday Cafe
Tuesdays Tasty Tidbits @ Permanent Posies
Simply Delish @ KB & Whitesnakes Home
Friday Potluck @ E-Kat's Kitchen
Friday Food @ Mom Trends
Presto Pasta Nights #241 hosted by Simona of Briciole 


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am your newest follower.
    Kim @ The Lunchbox

  2. This sounds so good. I loved roasted veggies : ) And your story about your veggie friend...too funny. "only a little. You'll be fine, cher." Ahh, cracks me up

  3. I love orzotto! I will have to try this one. Just recently, I had a friend who's a vegetarian over with her boyfriend and made gumbo. The only thing she ate was potato salad. I don't put bacon in mine, though...

  4. This sounds delightful! And, your friend sounds hilariously tragic - a vegetarian Jew living in Louisiana! I doubt it could get much tougher than that!

  5. Anything with feta is absolutely yummy! I can't wait to try this!

  6. My family's thanksgiving is pretty much going to be the same way...except we don't live in the south! Chicken broth? Bacon? totally things my parents think are vegetarian.

    I'll have to introduce them to this dish. Maybe then they'll understand...

  7. Well, there is no doubt that I loved roasted vegetables and any vegetables, for that matter. But I am a CARNIVORE. I am from Texas....and we are pretty much the same about our meat....though maybe not quite as much...hahah. I would fit in great in Cajun country. I use Cajun seasoning on everything. Glad you shared on Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits and hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

  8. What a fun post! It reminded me of the answers I would get in Italy during my early vegetarian days, like "but it's prosciutto!" I also love roasted vegetables and grab any chance to try new ways of using them. A beautiful, flavorful pasta dish: thanks for contributing it to Presto Pasta Nights!

  9. My sis is vegan and I find it hard to cook for her so she usually brings her own.

    Simply Delish is up.

  10. LOL!

    My sister and her husband went through a vegan phase. They visited the in laws (who were told ahead of time they didn't eat any meat) and were served beef, pork and the same meal!

  11. I started out reading your post giggling, and ended it drooling. The two are unrelated, but wowza - this looks spectacular! Thanks for sharing veggie tales from the South (they are similar in Wisconsin, by the way), and this gorgeous dish, with Friday Potluck. xoxo, Erin

  12. Delicious, love this orzo with roasted vegetables, as am veggie. Thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop.

  13. This sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  14. Anonymous11/29/2011

    This looks so yummy! Although we'd probably still have to add the bacon. My 6 year old is convinced everything is better with bacon. ;o)

    Thanks for linking up to Friday Food on!

  15. This post really made me smile - you write so well! I love vegetarian dishes like this, especially when they have pecans in them! Thank you for sharing with Let's Do Brunch.

  16. I want this badly without bacon, for sure. It is a beautiful dish and I like everything about it. I chose it to be featured tomorrow on Let's Do Brunch. Thanks for sharing it with us.


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