Orzo with Roasted Butternut Squash, Bacon, and Sage

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When the weather cools down, I start to crave flavorful meals like this orzo pasta with sage, bacon and butternut squash. The sage pairs beautifully with the salty bacon and slightly sweet squash. The flavors are perfect for a crisp fall day.

Orzo with Roasted Butternut Squash, Bacon, and Sage

This recipe is quick and easy to put together – great for a weeknight. You could even roast the butternut squash and cook the orzo ahead of time, to make the prep even faster.

Ingredients
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup orzo pasta
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper
Shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Add the chopped butternut squash and olive oil to a large bowl, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt (to taste) and toss again. Spread the squash evenly on a large baking sheet, and roast for 30 minutes, stirring once.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo al dente, per the package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

While the orzo is cooking, cook the chopped bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate and carefully pour all but about 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings into a glass measuring cup (or small bowl). Reduce the heat to low.

Add the sage, onion power, and crushed red pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the roasted butternut squash, cooked orzo, and bacon to the skillet, stirring gently to combine. Gradually add the reserved orzo cooking water until the sauce reaches the desired consistency (you may not need to use it all). If needed, you can also add more of the reserved bacon drippings. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook over low heat until the ingredients are heated through.

Serve topped with shredded parmesan. Enjoy!

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Roasted Pork Loin with Buttered Apple Sauce

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This is my new favorite way to prepare a boneless pork loin! The pork is so tender it melts in your mouth and the savory sage rub compliments the buttery apple sauce perfectly. This recipe is adapted from The Joy of Cooking cookbook (one of my favorites!).

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 boneless pork loin, about 2 pounds (center-cut is the best)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup apple juice or cider
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (substitute white sugar, if needed)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the pork loin on a rack over a broiler pan (I line the broiler pan with foil for easy clean-up). In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, sage, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture over the entire surface of the pork (including the bottom). (Note: to enhance the flavor, you can do this step several hours in advance, and refrigerate the pork until ready to roast.)

Roast the pork for about 10 minutes, and then turn the oven temperature down to 275 degrees. Continue roasting for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the thickest part of the meat registers 150 degrees (begin checking the temperature after 30 minutes). Remove the roast from the oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 minutes (the roast will continue to cook during this time, so don’t skip this step).

Meanwhile, prepare the Buttered Apple Sauce by combining the applesauce, apple juice, and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add the butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, stirring until the butter is melted.

After the pork loin has rested, cut into slices and serve with the warm Buttered Apple Sauce drizzled over the top. Enjoy!

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