Kale Orzo and Butternut Squash Casserole is a delicious side dish filled with cheese and veggies!
The holidays in my family means lots of casseroles! To be honest, I used to not care for casseroles much but these days they are so nostalgic to me and something I look forward to around the holidays. We don’t make many casseroles in our house any other time of year, so it’s something to look forward to. This year, I wanted to freshen things up a bit in my casserole repertoire, enter Kale Orzo and Butternut Squash Casserole!
Casseroles That Are Easy To Make
I know for some of you, the holidays may be one of the only times during the year that really get your hands dirty in the kitchen! Others of you are more seasoned pros. Either way, the holidays are wonderful, but can be a crazy and crowded time in the kitchen! So I made this casserole with you in mind.
Think pre-cut ingredients like pre-cubed butternut squash! Kale? Buy it bagged and pre-washed. Need more flavor? Cook your grains, in this case orzo, in broth! Adds tons of flavor without too much salt. These little swaps mean less ingredients to shop for and less time prepping in the kitchen. Sounds like a win to me!
Lots of old school American casseroles call for canned veggies and overly processed canned soups. Look, I’m not a hater of old school recipes but sometimes I want comforting casseroles that aren’t filled with preservatives. So my goal this year was to bring you lots of holiday recipes that are packed with those nostalgic, comforting flavors but made with fresh ingredients!
Kale in a casserole? Oh yes! Curly kale holds up so well to the high heat of baking making it the perfect green to sneak into your casseroles. The fresh butternut squash has sweetness and depth. I like to look at like as at least I’m getting a little nutrition from the kale as I scarf down all the cheese and carbs!
The Perfect Holiday Casserole
I wanted to make a casserole for the holidays this year that included seasonal veggies (hi butternut squash!) and avoided “a can,” of well, anything. I kept thinking to myself as I read recipe after recipe that there must be a way to bring all the comforting flavors to life without “a can.” But also the recipe needed to be easy enough for anyone to make.
This Kale Orzo and Butternut Squash Casserole certainly fits that bill! Not to mention, I put it to test on BMW and he agreed that this is a casserole that even his picky palate loves and that kiddos might even be willing to eat their greens!
Makes one 9×13 casserole
1 cup orzo, dry
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups kale, torn and stemmed
20 oz (or about 5 cups) butternut squash, cubed
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup half and half
4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon salt, divided
- Cook orzo, using chicken broth as liquid, according to package, set aside.
- Sauté garlic and onions with butter and 1/2 tablespoon salt until translucent, about 3-4 minutes over medium heat.
- Stir flour and half and half into pan with onions and garlic, stirring until well combined. Should be paste-y.
- Mix in butternut squash, kale and remaining salt until slightly softened, 2 minutes.
- Grease a 9×13 casserole dish and mix kale and butternut squash with orzo and 1 cup of mozzarella. Place into dish and top with remaining cheese. Cover and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove cover and bake and additional 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Do you have a classic casserole recipe that your family makes every year for the holidays? Tell me in the comments!