A healthy comfort food dish that uses sweet potato for creaminess, a bit of pancetta for salt, and orzo pasta to carry all of that yummy sauce with every bite! Throw in the peas at just the right time and they will have the perfect burst in your mouth!
An easy, adaptable, family-friendly dish that packs a nutritious punch with every bite. Substitute whole wheat pasta for the orzo for even more nutrition!
Sweet Potatos brings natural sweetness and creaminess to this dish without the need for cheese and dairy. Bonus…sweet potato are full of vitamins and antioxidants.
Love sweet potato? Try my sweet potato chili! Easy to make a hearty pot of this nutritious, flavorful comfort food!
To keep this recipe easy I diced the sweet potato right away, put a bit of water in a microwave safe bowl, and cook them up in the microwave. Keeps this fast and easy!
Tip: sub out butternut squash for the sweet potato. Or, try using sweet potato baby food (bonus…it’s already pureed!)
Are sweet potatoes healthier than regular potatoes?
Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes have the same amount of carbs (did you know that? Many people think white potatoes have more carbs.) BUT sweet potatoes have more fiber and are low GI (MUCH better for diabetic diets). Plus they have more vitamins and antioxidants.
Just a couple of ounces of pancetta bring tons of flavor and salt to the dish. I’ve used pancetta for years and years to cook up eggs in the morning, add to soups, and replace ham or bacon in many recipes.
Tip: substitute 2 slices of bacon for the pancetta. But be sure to remove the bacon grease and leave only about 1 tablespoon of it. Also, reduce the salt in the recipe. Bacon produces much more grease and salt than pancetta.
Use frozen peas for this recipe and pop them into the pan at the last bit of the pancetta and onion…just to coat and then remove them from the heat. They will continue to cook a bit AND they will get another little batch of cooking when they are mixed with the pasta, later. Overcooking them will make them mushy and everyone hates mushy peas.
Tip: if your family hates peas you can leave them out or try subbing them with frozen corn.
Now the whole dish comes together! This recipe calls for a cup of the pasta water to help make the sauce. That pasta water has lots of starch in it and allows for us to get a good texture, similar to a cheesy texture, without lots of dairy. Cool trick, huh!
Tip: if you don’t like the idea of using pasta water you could use more milk or broth, instead.
That, my friends, is a beautifully creamy sweet potato sauce. I use an immersion blender to blend mine up in the pan. If you don’t have an immersion blender I highly suggest picking one up. They are super handy for all sorts of purposes!
Tip: you can use a food processor or blender if you don’t have an immersion blender. You can also take a potato masher to the sauce and use man power. Watch out though..that method is messy!
After that sauce is blended you simply need to add back the orzo and the pea mixture. Give it a good stir adding in milk as needed to get the consistency you want.
Is orzo a rice or pasta?
Orzo is, in fact, a pasta. One of my children’s favorite versions :). However, orzo’s shape allows it to be used in much the same way you might use rice.
Be aware, though, that orzo IS made from wheat and DOES contain gluten. If you need a gluten-free pasta, orzo isn’t the right choice.
That, my friends, is an easy, cozy, stick to your bones dish the whole family will love. The best part is that you can have it on the table super quick!
Tip: When reheating this recipe add additional milk, the pasta becomes quite thick the longer it sits.
Creamy Sweet Potato Orzo
- immersion blender
- 1 lb orzo pasta, cooked al dente, drained, and rinsed with 1 cup pasta water reserved
- 1 large sweet potato, diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup onion, diced finely
- 2 ounces pancetta
- 1 tablespoon sage optional
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper optional
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup f frozen peas
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup reserved pasta water or, try using veggie broth
- 1/2 cup nut milk I use almond milk for my family with success.
- In a small microwaveable bowl, add the chopped sweet potato and a small amount of water. Cook 7-8 minutes on high, until soft. (some microwaves will only require 5 minutes–check at 5 minutes)
- In the bottom of a large pot or sauce pan (I use the same pot the orzo cooked in), add the olive oil and heat until shimmering.
- Add the sage, pancetta and onion. Saute for 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Add the garlic and peas and saute just until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Remove the pea and pancetta mixture from the pan and set it aside, add 1 tablespoon more of olive oil.
- Add the sweet potatoes and saute just to remove the pan drippings.
- Add the pasta water, milk, salt & pepper.. Bring just until boil and remove from heat.
- Use an immersion blender, blender, or food processor to puree the potatoes with the pasta water and milk.
- Add the pasta back into the sauce (NOTE! Add only half of the pasta, to start. Determine how saucy you like your pasta before adding additional in. Sometimes we only use about 3/4 of the pasta)
- Stir in the pea and pancetta mixture.
- Add salt, pepper, and milk as desired.
- Serve immediately with shaved Parmesan Cheese.