4.50 from 10 votes

Broccoli Pesto Orzo

Jump to Recipe
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 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
£1.12
Makes: 4
mains
Italian
Freezable

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. 

Close up with pieces of broccoli, pesto and orzo in a bowl with a lemon wedge.

Why this recipe works

For this broccoli pesto orzo, 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. Try these other recipes using orzo: Easy Red Pesto Pasta,  Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables With Halloumi and Baked Orzo and Creamy Sweetcorn Orzo with Paprika Prawns

Ingredients

Ingredients to make the broccoli pesto orzo laid out on a pale ble background and labelled.

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.

Pistacios
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, Lemon Juice and Basil
These are essential ingredients when making a traditional pesto. I went for parmigiano reggiano parmesan, a squeeze of lemon to add contract to the creaminess of the pistachios and parmesan and a huuuge handful of fresh basil is the basis of any green pesto!

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.

See the recipe card for full information on all ingredients and quantities.

How to make this recipe

  1. Start by blanching the broccoli florets for 2 minutes before you drain and set aside (Image 1).
  2. Now add half of the broccoli into a food processor, with the pistachios, garlic, lemon juice and basil (keep some for garnish) (Image 2).
2 step by step photos, the first with broccoli in a saucepan with water and the second with pistachios, broccoli and basil in a food processor.

3. 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 (Image 3).

4. 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 (Image 4).

2 step by step photos, the first with pesto dressing in a food processor and the second with orzo boiling a a pan.

5. 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 (Image 5).

6. Serve with an extra sprinkle of parmesan, the reserved basil and a wedge of lemon and enjoy! (Image 6).

2 step by step photos, the first with broccoli and orzo with pesto in a pan and the second with the orzo pesto broccoli served in a bowl with a wedge of lemon.

A few pasta bake recipes you might like to try: Healthy Baked Ziti Inspired Pasta Bake and Aubergine Parmigiana Pasta Bake 

Tips and Tricks

  • Cook the orzo until al dente and save some pasta water for the sauce.
  • Don’t overcook the broccoli!   Blanch the florets in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until they turn bright green. Immediately transfer them to cold water  to stop the cooking process and preserve their vibrant color.
  • To make the pesto in the food processor, pulse the pesto ingredients a few times, before adding the parmesan and extra-virgin olive oil. You want some texture and 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
  • Add some extra toppings to enhance the flavor and texture of your broccoli pesto orzo. Consider adding sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, grated courgette and chopped avocado.

Other pasta recipes for you to try after this one: One-Pot Creamy Tomato Tortellini Pasta Soup, Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables With Halloumi and Baked Orzo and Mushroom Rigatoni Ragu

FAQs

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 of the orzo with broccoli and pesto and basil with parmesan.

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.

Other meal prep recipes for you to try; Healthy Noodle Bowls, Dorito Taco Salad Recipe and Halloumi and Sweet Potato Tex-Mex Bowls

A large pan with brocooli pesto and orzo with sprinkled parmesan on top.

If you tried this Broccoli Pesto Orzo recipe, it would be mean so much to me if you could leave a review & a star rating to let me know how you found it! I love hearing about your experiences – it motivates me to keep creating more and more recipes for you guys 💛 Let’s get cooking! – Mimi x

Broccoli Pesto Orzo

Print
4.50 from 10 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
£1.12
mains
Italian
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.

Notes

  • Cook orzo until al dente, reserving pasta water for the sauce.
  • Blanch broccoli florets in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to cold water to preserve color.
  • Make pesto in a food processor, pulsing ingredients before adding parmesan and olive oil. Adjust consistency with water if needed. Season with salt to taste. 
  • Add extra toppings like sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, grated courgette, and chopped avocado for enhanced flavor and texture.

Nutrition

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

Leave a comment and a rating!

Thank you so much for trying my recipe! I hope you loved it. I’d be so grateful if you could leave a comment/rating - it makes my day hearing your feedback!

Recipe Rating




Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Weekly meal plans with a £20 budget
  • 100+ exclusive recipes
  • Personal dashboard
  • Exclusive step by step videos
  • Shopping list tools

JOIN NOW LEARN MORE

Never miss a recipe!

Sign up to my weekly newsletter to get all of Beat the Budget's recent recipes, so you never miss out!

Development Alchemy + Aim
Share to...