Broccoli is a fall and winter staple that, frankly, can get pretty boring. But made into a pesto and paired with whole wheat orzo, lemon, avocado, and crème fraîche, it’s anything but. Keep this recipe, from one of my favorite cookbooks (honestly—I use it all the time), Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, on hand for fall and beyond. I promise it will beat any deli pasta salad in taste and nutrition by a long shot.
with whole wheat orzo, broccoli pesto, lemon, avocado, crème fraîche
Fine-grained sea salt
11/2 cups / 9 oz / 255 g whole wheat orzo
5 cups / 11 oz / 310 g raw broccoli cut into small florets and stems
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2/3 cup / 3.5 oz / 100 g pine nuts, toasted (see page 219)
1/3 cup / .5 oz / 15 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup / 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup / 2 oz / 60 g crème fraîche (see page 226)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
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.
In the meantime, cook the broccoli. Bring 3/4 cup / 180 ml 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.
To make the pesto, combine 2 cups / 7 oz / 200 g 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.
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.
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.”
Photo: Heidi Swanson © 2011