Pesto ‘Orzotto’ with Broccolini, Zucchini and Chicken Sausage

I’ve been craving risotto for a few weeks now, but have been too lazy to find all the necessary ingredients. Then, on my weekly TJ’s trip, inspiration struck and I decided to make an orzo-based risotto. I began by making the pesto, which requires the following ingredients:

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup pine nuts

5 cups chopped fresh basil

3 large garlic cloves

1 cup EVOO

1 cup Parmesan (no one ever said pesto is healthy…)

salt and pepper to taste

2 tsps cayenne pepper (optional)

I began by processing the nut and garlic in the food processor. I ground them up for only 20 seconds or so before adding the basil, cayenne, salt and pepper. As this was blending, I added the EVOO, bit by bit, until the pesto was completely pureed.

Then I added the cup of Parmesan, and pureed again.

Once the pesto was done, I set to work on the ‘orzotto’. This requires the following ingredients:

1/2 large white onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup orzo

1/2 cup white wine

2 cups vegetable broth

1 large zucchini, diced

1/2 packet broccolini, cut into small pieces

2 sundried tomato and basil chicken sausages (from Trader Joe’s- use whatever you like, but these go well with the other flavours of the meal)

thyme

olive oil

3 cups salted water

I began by sauteeing up the onion and garlic in a pan, while simultaneously heating up the broth and water. Start heating up these two about ten minutes into sauteeing, so the timing is good.

Once the onions were translucent, I added the orzo to the pot (I switched pots at this point so that there would be room for the entire risotto) and toasted it, for about two minutes.

I then added the white wine, and cooked it off.

Once the wine was cooked off, I began the process that makes this a risotto as opposed to a pasta. I started by adding one cup of the broth (suggestion: DON’T use TJ’s low-sodium vegetable broth- it gives things a weirdly sweet, raisiny taste) and stirred the mixture until it had been absorbed.

I then repeated this process with a cup of water, and went back and forth between the broth and water until the orzo was golden, plump and fully cooked (this took four cups- two of each).

I then left the orzo on a low heat, and covered it to keep warm while I made the veggies and chicken for the risotto. I placed the zucchini and broccolini in the pan with the small amount of remaining broth to flavour them, as well as 3 tbsps of pesto, thyme and cayenne.

Once the veggies were cooked, I added them to the risotto, and sliced up two chicken sausages on high heat in a pan, and added that as well. I also added about 1/3 of a cup of the pesto, and swirled it in.

Finally, I grated up about a cup of parmesan on top of the risotto, and mixed it in well.

Once the risotto was done, I plated it up, drizzled EVOO over the top and topped the whole thing with some parmesan shavings. A much simpler version of risotto that still delivers delicious results, perfect for a weeknight meal!

-priya

Pesto ‘Orzotto’ with Broccolini, Zucchini and Chicken Sausage