Lemon Parmesan broccoli-rice orzo is cheesy with hints of balsamic and basil for an easy and healthy side dish recipe perfect for Spring!
Imagine Spring without lemon. That would be like Fall without pumpkin or Christmas without gingerbread!!!
This lemon Parmesan broccoli-rice orzo is packed with bright Spring flavor.
It’s made with riced broccoli that’s cooked with garlic and onions and flavored with balsamic, lemon and fresh basil. The orzo is mixed in along with Parmesan cheese making it an easy, and cheesy orzo side dish.
Because what’s Spring without a little lemon?
Is orzo rice or pasta?
Orzo is technically pasta.
It has the shape of rice, but the texture of pasta making it a little confusing as to what it actually is.
It is not a grain and it does contain wheat so unfortunately it is not gluten free.
How do you cook orzo?
You can cook orzo as you would rice or pasta:
- Boil it as you would regular pasta in salted water.
- Add it to a boiling pot of soup and cook until tender.
- Cook it risotto-style in a risotto recipe.
- Cook is like you would in a pilaf recipe; meaning cook it in liquid until the liquid is fully absorbed.
Orzo is very versatile; besides using it as a rice or in soup, you can also use it in a cold pasta salad side dish!
Ingredients in lemon Parmesan broccoli-rice orzo:
- broccoli rice
- balsamic vinegar
- lemon juice + zest
- Parmesan cheese
- fresh basil
For this orzo recipe, we’re cooking the orzo as we would regular pasta, then adding it to the broccoli rice mixture and serving it as a warm (or room temperature) side dish.
Instead of cauliflower rice, we’re using broccoli rice for a pop of color and added nutrition.
To make lemon Parmesan Orzo:
- First, cook orzo according to package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid before draining.
- To make the broccoli rice (or riced broccoli), we’re using the same method as you would for cauliflower rice: place florets in food processor and pulse until finely riced.
- Heat butter over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add onions and garlic. Then add broccoli rice and cook until tender.
- Stir in balsamic vinegar and lemon.
- Add Parmesan cheese, reserved pasta water, fresh basil and salt and pepper.
Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy :).
- ¾ cup Orzo Pasta
- 1 head Broccoli, cut into small florets
- 4 tbsp Butter
- 1/2 Yellow Onion, finely diced
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- 1 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- ½ cup Fresh Basil, chopped
- Cook orzo according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of liquid, drain and set aside.
- To make riced broccoli: in batches (depending how big your processor is), place broccoli florets in food processor and pulse until it resembles rice. Place in bowl and repeat with remaining florets.
- Heat butter over medium heat in large sauce pan. Add onion, garlic and riced broccoli; cook until onions and broccoli are tender, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and zest, cook 2 minutes.
- Add cooked orzo to broccoli mixture along with Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water in step 1. Cook additional 2 minutes. Add more water if needed so pasta isn't dry.
- Remove from heat, fold in fresh basil and serve warm or at room temperature.
*This dish can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 190 g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249Total Fat: 12.83gSaturated Fat: 7.13gUnsaturated Fat: 4.07gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 530mgCarbohydrates: 24.3gFiber: 4.6gSugar: 3.62gProtein: 11.69g