Butternut Squash and Black Bean Orzo with Sausage and Spinach is a perfect Autumn dinner packed with veggies and protein. It's a tasty addition to the holiday menu and is also great for an easy weeknight meal. Simple and flavorful to become your family's new favorite Fall comfort food!
Butternut squash and black bean orzo
Butternut squash is one of those ingredients you probably use only in the Fall and Winter when this winter squash is in season. And, if you're looking for inspiration on how to use this delicious ingredient in your cooking, you've come to the right place as I've got lots of butternut squash recipes! This particular recipe has everything you need in a complete meal: protein (sausage and black beans), veggies (butternut squash and spinach), and pasta (orzo). A very tasty flavor combo! Just like this reader-favorite Autumn dinner that uses similar ingredients: Black Bean and Butternut Squash Casserole.
While this recipe is pretty straightforward and super easy to make, it looks and tastes like a pasta dish from a fine Italian restaurant! It can also be a great holiday main course (or a side dish). If you want to expand your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu, try this dish for your holiday menu! Another fantastic holiday recipe is Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels sprouts with Pecans and Cranberries.
Why make it
Roasted butternut squash and black beans go really well together! Add spinach, sausage, and orzo and you have one of those rare pasta recipes that combine both comfort food deliciousness and healthy ingredients. This pasta is cozy and comforting yet it's packed with fiber and nutrients. A perfect family weeknight dinner!
- Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, and E, as well as several minerals, including magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Butternut squash is also rich in dietary fiber.
- Spinach is packed with nutrients and antioxidants. It’s high in fiber and a good source of many vitamins and minerals. Spinach is a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid, iron, and calcium.
- Pre-cooked sausage. Use smoked sausage, andouille sausage, or cajun sausage. The key is to use a flavored sausage that has already been pre-cooked. I used pre-cooked andouille sausage in this recipe.
- Orzo is an Italian pasta that is shaped and looks like long rice.
How to make butternut squash and black bean orzo
Here is the recipe in a nutshell. For more details, scroll down to the recipe card below.
1) Roast butternut squash (peeled and cubed) on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in the preheated oven at 400 F.
2) Cook orzo in boiling water in a medium saucepan in a 1:2 ratio (1 cup of orzo with 2 cups of water).
3) Cook sausage coins (I used Andouille sausage) in a large high-sided skillet.
4) Add spinach to the skillet with sausage and cook until it wilts.
5) Assemble the dish by adding black beans, cooked orzo, and roasted butternut squash to the skillet with sausage and spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Top with fresh thyme.
Cooking Tips, Variations, and Substitutions
- Use a high-sided, heavy-bottomed cooking pan such as a cast-iron skillet or a good-quality stainless steel pan. This will help avoid the burn spots and will ensure even cooking without food getting stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Spice it up! Butternut squash and black beans will benefit from a bit of heat. Use red pepper flakes to spice up this dish, especially if the sausage is not spicy.
- Fresh spinach is used in this recipe. You can also use frozen spinach. Or change up the greens and use arugula, kale, or Swiss chard instead.
- Add a splash of heavy cream for the creamier version of this dish.
- Make this recipe gluten-free by using long rice instead of orzo.
- Reduce calories by using chopped cauliflower or cauliflower rice instead of orzo.
- Toppings. When serving, top this butternut squash and black bean dinner with grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, or cracked black pepper.
Tips on making it ahead
Roast butternut squash cubes up to 2 days ahead. Keep them refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use. Reheat the squash briefly in the microwave (for about 30 seconds) before adding it to this dish.
Storage and reheating tips
Because butternut squash and black bean orzo has no cream and no cheese, this weeknight meal is easy to store and reheat. You can also make it ahead. Here are some tips:
- Fridge. Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freezer. Freeze the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
- Reheat in the microwave oven. Reheat the refrigerated leftovers in a microwave oven for about 1 minute. Taste and reheat for 30 seconds more, if needed.
- Reheat on the stovetop. Reheat it with a small amount of olive oil in a large, high-sided skillet on the stovetop on low-medium heat.
How to serve it
Serve butternut squash and black bean orzo in shallow pasta bowls or on plates. Garnish with fresh herbs and red pepper flakes, if you like. Sprinkle freshly grated or shaved Parmesan, Asiago, or Pecorino Romano cheese on top.
What sides to serve with this meal?
- Store-bought or homemade bread. Serve this easy recipe with a slice of warm Italian bread, garlic bread, or olive bread loaf. Baguette or sourdough bread will also be delicious.
- Simple salad. Serve a generous amount of simple salad, such as basic spinach or arugula salad, sprinkled with toasted nuts (pecans or pine nuts), a small amount of shredded Parmesan, and dressed simply with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Salad recommendations. If you're looking for specific salad recommendations, try this simple spinach salad with pine nuts and Parmesan or cranberry spinach salad with cashews and goat cheese. Or, pair the butternut squash and black bean orzo with the colorful and easy-to-make arugula salad with apples, cranberries, and pecans or Fall-themed arugula salad with pears, apples, cashews, and homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
Other butternut squash recipes you might like
- Autumn Chicken Dinner with Roasted Vegetables (Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts)
- Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta with Sausage and Spinach
- Creamy Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sausage, Thyme, and Sage
- Stuffed Butternut Squash with Spinach, Bacon, and Cheese
Butternut Squash and Black Bean Orzo with Sausage and Spinach
Roasted butternut squash
- 2 cups butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup uncooked orzo
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 oz sausage cooked, such as cajun sausage, andouille sausage, or smoked sausage
- 15 oz black beans canned, rinsed, drained
- 5 oz fresh spinach
- fresh thyme
Roast Butternut Squash
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- In a large bowl, toss cubed butternut squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Spread the squash on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in one layer, without overcrowding.
- Roast in the preheated oven on the middle rack at 400 F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Proceed with the rest of the recipe while you roast the squash.
- Combine 2 cups of water and 1 cup of orzo in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to medium or medium-low heat.
- Cook the orzo for about 10 minutes on medium or medium-low heat, with water visibly simmering, stirring frequently to make sure the orzo doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add small amounts of water if the cooking water gets absorbed too quickly. Adjust the heat as you go.
- Once the orzo reaches an "al dente" texture, remove the pan from heat, cover it with a lid and let the orzo rest in the residual heat for about 5 minutes, off heat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, high-sided, heavy-bottomed skillet (such as cast iron or stainless steel) on medium heat.
- Slice cooked sausage into coins and add to the skillet.
- Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes on one side until nicely browned, then flip over and cook for about 3 minutes on the other side.
- Add spinach to the sausage and cook on medium-low heat until wilted.
- Add rinsed and drained black beans and cooked orzo (drained of any liquid). Mix to combine. Add roasted butternut squash cubes. Stir everything together carefully.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Top with fresh thyme.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.