A Great Salad with Friends and Neighbors

I have made this Orzo Salad with broccoli pesto and avocado at least twice every summer for the last 4 years. The occasion has always been a get together of some kind; with people you want to make your best impression. People you live somewhat close too or work with; you know.....your friends and neighbors. This recipe is from, "Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day Cookbook".


1 1/2 cups whole wheat orzo
5 cups raw broccoli (cut into small florets and stems)
2 cloves garlic (peeled and diced)
2/3 cups pine nuts (toasted)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
1 lemon (juice and zest)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup crème fraíche
1 avocado (peeled, pitted and chopped)
Salt to taste

To prepare:

Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil, salt generously. Add orzo and cook approx 9 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water. To cook broccoli, bring 3/4 cup water to boil in a large heavy pot, add salt, then broccoli, stir to cover with water. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, just long enough to take the raw edge off. Drain in strainer and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and set aside.

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 lemon juice in a food processor. Drizzle in the olive oil and crème fraíche and pulse until smooth.

Just before serving, toss orzo and remaining broccoli with about 2/3 of the broccoli pesto and lemon zest. Fold in avocado. Taste for salt and adjust if needed. Garnish with remaining pine nuts and bits of avocado. Enjoy!


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