Orzo Primavera

I feel like I could write an entire cookbook based on things I end up making when my fresh veggies are about to go bad. Specifically, broccoli. I got the idea for this pasta dish from a book I’m reading called Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet

It was a general suggestion for getting your daily protein intake, and I adjusted it slightly to be a little more tasty. I’ll warn you though–it’s kind of bland. Which was OK with me because sometimes that’s what I feel like and, if I’m going to take leftovers to work, I don’t want them to give me gnarly breath or stink up the break room too much. That being said, feel free to add more garlic and/or spices if you want. You could also toss in some straight nutritional yeast at the end with a little extra olive oil rather than making the sauce. Instead of using fresh broccoli, try using frozen. Instead of fresh bell pepper, you could also use frozen or roasted. But in either case, don’t cook as long, because frozen veggies are pre-parboiled. I think it would be good with summer squash, spinach or peas, too.

Another note about ingredients: I used orzo because (surprise) I had a random partial bag of orzo. Mark (my boo) described the dish as stir fry with pasta instead of rice–I don’t think he was too crazy about it. If you used penne or rotini it would probably be better, but I’d suggest using a bit more olive oil and a whole cup of veggie broth so it’s more saucy. You could also toss in the cheezee sauce instead of putting it on top. Don’t forget the pine nuts! If you don’t have pine nuts, some toasted almond slivers or walnut pieces would do the trick. But I think the dish really benefits from a nutty crunch.

And, finally, the cheezee sauce is totally optional. I took the recipe straight out of Vegan on the Cheap: Great Recipes and Simple Strategies that Save You Time and Money
but cut it in half. I’m writing down the ingredients that I used strictly following the recipe, but I’ll tell you up front: if I made it again I don’t think I’d use mustard or apple cider vinegar. Taste it before you add the acid ingredients, and then just add enough to achieve the taste you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper before you serve, but taste as you season so you don’t add too much salt.

Orzo Primavera

Time commitment: 20 minutes 
Makes: 4-6 servings 

  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, small dice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 crowns broccoli, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into slices
  • 1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: cheezee sauce or nutritional yeast


  1. Get a pot of salted water ready for pasta. Prep veggies.Heat up a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add oil to skillet. Throw in onions, saute for a couple minutes. Add garlic and stir a couple of times. Add peppers and broccoli and saute, stirring occasionally, so they caramelize a bit. 
  3. Meanwhile, add pasta to boiling water. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, for 5  minutes. 
  4. Add veggie broth to broccoli mixture and stir, deglazing pan. Drain and add pasta, stir to combine. Stir in garbanzo beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer till pasta and veggies are done to your liking.
  5. Serve in bowls (or plates, whatever) topped with nuts, and cheezee sauce or a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. 
  6. To freeze and save for work lunch: let cool to room temp then divide between containers. To reheat, microwave for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes , partially covered, with a splash of water. 

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