4.5 from 8 votes

Broccoli Pesto Orzo

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This veggie packed broccoli pesto is so flavoursome. It's cheesy, nutty and super easy to whip up, with orzo making a fun addition to your usual pesto pasta.
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
£1.12
Makes: 4
mains
Italian
Broccoli Orzo, Broccoli Pesto Orzo, Pesto orzo
Freezable

Table of Contents

  1. Why this recipe works
  2. Ingredients
  3. How to make this recipe
  4. FAQ
  5. How to meal prep this recipe

Why this recipe works

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.

Close up shot of Broccoli Pesto Orzo

Ingredients

Broccoli

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.

Pistachios

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.

Parmesan

An essential ingredient when making a traditional pesto. I went for parmigiano reggiano here.

Lemon juice

A much needed contrast to the creaminess of the pistachios and parmesan, you can adjust this to taste.

Basil

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

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.

Overhead shot of Broccoli Orzo Pesto

How to make this recipe

Start by blanching the broccoli florets for 2 minutes before you drain and set aside.

Broccoli in saucepan on cooker

Now add half of the broccoli into a food processor, with the pistachios, garlic, lemon juice and basil (keep some for garnish).

Broccoli, pistachios and other ingredients in food processor

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.

Green pesto in food processor

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.

Orzo in saucepan with boiling water on cooker

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.

Orzo mixed with pesto sauce in pan on cooker

FAQ

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.

Close up shot of Broccoli Pesto Orzo

How to meal prep this recipe

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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Overhead shot of Broccoli Pesto Orzo in large pan

 

Broccoli Pesto Orzo

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4.5 from 8 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
£1.12
mains
Italian
Broccoli Orzo, Broccoli Pesto Orzo, Pesto orzo
Freezable
Servings: 4
This veggie packed broccoli pesto is so flavoursome. It's cheesy, nutty and super easy to whip up, with orzo making a fun addition to your usual pesto pasta.

Ingredients

  • 2 heads of broccoli, chopped into florets (£0.47x2)=(£0.94)
  • Bunch of fresh basil (£0.55)
  • 75 g pistachios, removed from shell (£2.75/2)=(£1.38)
  • 2 cloves garlic (£0.69/3)=(£0.23)
  • ½ lemon, juiced (£0.59/4)=(£0.15)
  • 50 g parmesan,finely grated (£1.75/3)=(£0.58)
  • 350 g orzo (£0.65)

Cupboard Essentials

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Method

  • Start by adding the broccoli florets into boiling water to blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Add half of the broccoli into a food processor, along with the basil (reserve some for garnish), pistachios, garlic and lemon juice. Pulse/blend until you achieve a rough blend, then add the parmesan and extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and blend until you achieve a pesto consistency, if it seems too thick, add a couple of tbsp of water.
  • Next, generously salt boiling water before adding your orzo. Set your timer to 2 minutes minus the packet time. Reserve a large jug of pasta water before draining.
  • In a non-stick pan, combine the pesto, orzo and a few ladles of pasta water. Add the remaining broccoli at this stage too. Continue to cook until the pesto and pasta emulsifies, adding extra pasta water as necessary. The pasta water should add salt but taste test to see if you need any more.
  • Serve with an extra sprinkle of parmesan and the reserved basil.

Nutrition

Servings: 4 servings
Fat: 21g
Calories: 563kcal
Carbohydrates: 72g
Protein: 21g

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