You might be thinking: broccoli, in pesto, don’t mess with a classic like that. But trust me here, this recipe finds a way to get so much flavour (first) AND nutrients into one of the best/most famous pasta sauces. The blanched broccoli adds brightness and texture the sauce, with all the other elements of the pesto bringing us to flavourtown. The pistachios add a fun twist to your classic pine nut combo, which personally I find to add a greater depth of flavour. As for the orzo choice of pasta, orzo recipes are always a winner.
I love how the flavour of broccoli is pretty neutral, so when blitzed into the pesto, we gain a lot of volume and nutrients, whilst retaining the flavour of the pesto ingredients. We half blend and half chop the broccoli florets in this recipe to add a mix of textures within the dish.
A great substitute to pine nuts when looking for a budget friendly alternative. When blended they add an amazing creaminess and no need to soak! I bought mine shelled to save time.
An essential ingredient when making a traditional pesto. I went for parmigiano reggiano here.
A much needed contrast to the creaminess of the pistachios and parmesan, you can adjust this to taste.
A huuuge handful of fresh basil is needed here. It’s the basis of any green pesto. I wouldn’t recommend skipping out on the fresh basil for dried basil as this will lack the colour and flavour the basil provides.
Orzo recipes are always fun, it has the flavour of a pasta recipe whilst being disguised in the shape of rice. You could substitute for your pasta of choice but i think this orzo recipe is perfect when combined with the broccoli pesto.
Start by blanching the broccoli florets for 2 minutes before you drain and set aside.
Now add half of the broccoli into a food processor, with the pistachios, garlic, lemon juice and basil (keep some for garnish).
You are aiming for a rough blend, so you only need to pulse the pesto ingredients a few times, before adding the parmesan and extra-virgin olive oil. If the pesto is a bit thick in consistency, add a few tbsp of water. Season with some salt to taste and your pesto is ready.
Next, add your orzo to the salted, boiling water. Set your timer to 2 minutes minus the packet time. Remember to reserve a large jug of pasta water before draining.
Still using the same pan, mix together the delicious pesto sauce, orzo and a few ladles of pasta water. To add texture and colour, add the remaining blanched broccoli florets and continue to cook until the pesto and pasta emulsifies. Add some more pasta water if necessary and salt to taste. Serve with an extra sprinkle of parmesan and the reserved basil.
What is orzo?
I get this question a lot. ‘Is it pasta?’, ‘Is it rice?’. It’s actually pasta that is in the shape of rice. So if you’re looking for a gluten free recipe, orzo recipes might not be the one for you.
Is pesto good for you?
This pesto is packed full of nutrients from all of the whole ingredients. You have the healthy fats from the pistachios, so many micronutrients packed in by the broccoli, lemon juice basil and extra-virgin olive oil. My only thought is due to the fats in the pistachios and parmesan, I’d watch out for portion sizes to ensure you’re not eating more calories than expected.
Do I have to mix the broccoli into the food processor?
If you’d prefer to have your broccoli served as a side rather than half incorporated in the pesto, you can definitely do that.
This recipe is great for meal prep. It’s freezable so you can freeze a few portions to spread out the meals to prevent boredom. To reheat, add a splash of reserved orzo starchy water to rehydrate the sauce and pop in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. If reheating on the hob, heat for around 4 minutes on low.
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