Orzo, Arugula and Butternut Squash Salad in a Maple-Balsamic-Coffee Vinaigrette

Photo by: Joseph De Leo

by Joanne Bruno

over 2 years ago

This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with Coffee.

Natalie Barbarese's Testing Notes:

Move over tired veggie sides, a new dish is in town. Joanne Bruno's tangy-sweet coffee vinaigrette permeates creamy cubes of butternut squash, peppery arugula, and quick-cooking orzo for a dish equally suited to side dish duty or as the main attraction. Watch little specks of coffee coat each grain of pasta as it cools slightly. It's fabulous warm, but we also enjoyed it at room temperature, once the dressing had a chance to really sink in. Thankfully there's no penalty if you can't resist chowing down at first sight.

I created this recipe for a coffee-themed dinner party I held for my sleep-deprived medical student friends last year. The sweetness from the maple and the balsamic in the vinaigrette makes the slight bitterness of the coffee almost addictive, and the same goes for the mix of butternut squash and arugula!

Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a side

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 4 ounces arugula
  • 1 pound orzo
  • 1 teaspoon coffee, very finely ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Cut the butternut squash into 1-inch dice, removing all of the seeds and pulp. Place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 40 minutes or until fork-tender.
  2. Set a pot of salted water to boil. While it boils, mix together the vinaigrette by combining, in a bowl, the coffee through balsamic vinegar.
  3. When the water is boiled, pour orzo in and cook until al dente. Strain. Mix the arugula into the still-hot orzo. Mix in the butternut squash chunks. Finally, pour in the vinaigrette and stir to combine. Serve.

Nutrition Info:


  • 622 calories
  • 16g total fat
  • 2g saturated fat
  • 0mg cholesterol
  • 312mg sodium
  • 104g carbohydrate (6g dietary fiber, 14g sugar)
  • 16g protein
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