Mother Earth Living

Whole Wheat Orzo Salad Recipe with Broccoli Pesto

Put a couple heads of broccoli to good use in this Whole Wheat Orzo Salad recipe with Broccoli Pesto.
By Heidi Swanson
March 2011
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In Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2011), author Heidi Swanson offers 100 vegetarian recipes for every meal of the day that are quick to the table but tasty enough to linger over. This whole-wheat orzo salad recipe with broccoli pseto is from Chapter 2: Lunch.

Whole-Wheat Orzo Salad Recipe with Broccoli Pesto

You can cook the pasta, blanch the broccoli, and make the pesto ahead of time, if needed. And, if you're looking for something more substantial, top with a poached egg or two.

• Fine-grained sea salt
• 1 1/2 cups whole wheat orzo
• 5 cups raw broccoli cut into small florets and stems
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled
• 2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
• 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
• 1/4 cup crème fraîche
• Grated zest of 1 lemon
• 1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt generously, add the orzo, and cook according to the package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain well again.

2. In the meantime, cook the broccoli. Bring 3/4 cup water to a boil in a large pot. Add a big pinch of salt and stir in the broccoli. Cover and cook for 1 minute, just long enough to take off the raw edge. Quickly drain the broccoli in a strainer and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and set aside.

3. To make the pesto, combine 2 cups of the cooked broccoli, the garlic, most of the pine nuts, the Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice in a food processor. Drizzle in the olive oil and crème fraîche and pulse until smooth.

4. Just before serving, toss the orzo and remaining cooked broccoli florets with about two-thirds of the broccoli pesto and the lemon zest. Thin with a bit of warm water if you like, then taste and adjust if needed. You might want to add a bit more salt, or an added drizzle of lemon juice, or more pesto. Gently fold in the avocado. Turn out into a bowl or onto a platter and top with the remaining pine nuts. Serves 6.

Reprinted with permission from Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. 

Read the original article, Natural Cooking with Super Natural Every Day Cookbook.

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