Surprise! See, I can make food that doesn’t have meat in it! There’s lots of hidden greens in this Pea, Zucchini and Pesto Orzo. It’s a complete meal and only takes 15 minutes to make. A leisurely 15 minutes – no rushing, no pulling out every appliance in your kitchen. This is a really simple but really tasty dinner that only requires a handful of ingredients.
“Orzo/risoni is one of my quick meal tips. It’s shaped like rice but tastes like pasta and cooks in just 5 minutes.”
The main flavour base of this is pesto. When basil is in season or if you happen to have a friend with a “basil problem” in their herb patch (life is hard….), I instantly think of making pesto. The only problem is that homemade preservative-free basil doesn’t keep that well in the fridge – it tends to lose it’s bright green colour within a day and by the end of the week, it’s a rather unappetising greyish colour. You can preserve the colour better by ensuring you cover the top of the pesto with olive oil, but I still find that it discolours fairly quickly.
So the way I get around this is to freeze it. The flavour and colour preserves really well! I pour it into ice cube trays, then once frozen I turn it out and store it in ziplock bags. Using an ice cube tray is really handy for having serving size portions of pesto in the freezer.
“Pesto pasta is not exactly an original recipe idea. But I thought a pesto risoni loaded up with vegetables was something a little different because it’s a complete meal.”
Using pesto for pasta is pretty unoriginal, I know that! But I thought some people might find this recipe handy for a quick midweek meal – something a little different by using orzo/risoni and also ensuring there is enough zucchini and peas in this so it can be considered a complete meal.
I made this recipe using homemade pesto, but it can be made with store bought pesto too. I’ve also included a pesto recipe in the notes. It’s honestly so fast to make – just throw the ingredients in the food processor and whizz.
What are your “go to” quick meal fix tips? I’d love to hear them – it will inspire me for more 15 Minute Meal ideas!
- 2/3 cup risoni
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 1/2 tbsp basil pesto , preferably homemade (see notes for recipe)
- 1 small onion (brown, yellow or white), diced
- 1 garlic clove , crushed
- 3 cups zucchini , diced
- 1 cup frozen peas , preferably defrosted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- Parmesan cheese , freshly grated
Place about 8 cups of water in a large saucepan and bring to boil.
Add risoni and cook for 4 minutes, then add peas and cook for a further 1 minute. Note: The risoni will be slightly underdone at this point. It will finish cooking in the remaining steps.
Scoop out 1/2 cup of the water from the saucepan, then drain the risoni and set aside until ready to add to the pan.
Heat olive oil in a fry pan over medium high heat.
Add garlic and onion and sauté for 1 minute until starting to soften.
Add zucchini and sauté for a further 2 - 3 minutes until both the zucchini and onion are softened and the onion is starting to turn a light golden brown.
Add pesto, risoni, pasta water reserved in step 3, salt and pepper. Bring the water to a simmer and stir for 1 minute until the water is absorbed.
Serve immediately, garnished with freshly grated parmesan.
1. Homemade Basil Pesto - place the following into a small food processor and whizz until combined. You could also use a mortar and pestle.
2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup pine nuts (preferably toasted) (or cashews, Brazil nuts, walnuts or almonds),
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (or Pecorino)
1/4 tsp salt and pepper (plus more to taste)
1/2 tbsp - 1 tbsp lemon juice (to taste)
2. If you want to add frozen spinach to add more nutrition into it, simply thaw then squeeze out excess liquid and add it when you add the orzo / risoni. Then stir through.
3. Nutrition per serving.