Pumpkin orzo with sage: $1.26/serving

I would love more than anything in the world to be able tell you I bought a whole pumpkin on sale for something ridiculous like 50 cents at Fred Meyer and roasted it myself to make this dish and more pumpkin to freeze for later. That’s what I should have done, and that’s what you should do.

But back on Sunday I had anticipated this being a much busier week than it ended up being, so I made room in the budget for a time-saving $1.29 can of Libby’s pumpkin purée. (To make matters worse, I can’t stand Libby’s because the picture of pie on the can always makes me nervous—are they sure this is just plain pumpkin and not pre-sweetened “pumpkin pie filling”?)

This is another fall-rotation staple at our house, both for its ease and its utility in helping prune the invasive sage bush in our back yard. It also provided a use for some of the cheese broth we have lingering in the freezer (made from boiling leftover Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds; if you can’t afford the cheese and want to make some, a lot of stores sell just the rinds alone).

I use this recipe [link] more or less to the letter, but this time used cheese instead of chicken broth to cook the orzo. (At left. Also serving as a cautionary tale for anyone wanting to get a white flat-top range, which for the record came with our house. You might think anything that spills over or even touches a burner—like, say, the bottom of a pan that isn’t 100% spotless—might burn on contact and create a permanent stain. Guess what? It does!)

I also mixed the orzo in with the sauce (at left, pre-pumpkin) to cook and meld for its last few minutes, as I’m of the firm belief that for all dishes involving pasta and sauce, the pasta should be finished in the sauce.

And there you have it. So fall, and so easy. This technically makes 4 servings, but again I’ve ratcheted it down because someone’s going to want seconds of this.

8 oz. orzo: 60 cents
1 can pumpkin: $1.69
1/2 cup milk (from a $2 gallon): 6 cents
2 oz. Parmesan: 50 cents
Sage (from garden): $0
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (homemade, scrap, from freezer): $0
3 cups cheese broth: $0
1 shallot: 87 cents 
1 T butter: 6 cents
Salt & pepper: 1 cent
TOTAL: $3.79/3 = $1.26/serving 

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