Orzo with purple sprouting broccoli, lemon and ricotta


It’s a busy time of year down at the allotment and this week we’ve been planting potatoes, broad beans, french beans and onions. Our reward for all this hard work was some super fresh purple sprouting broccoli which had appeared, as if by magic (we didn’t plant it), right in the middle of our cabbage patch. It had survived huge dumps of snow, a collapsed cabbage cage and very hungry pigeons.

Purple sprouting broccoli always brings to mind this recipe (based on one from Waitrose Kitchen magazine). It has a subtle, fresh and healthy taste. It is also really quick to cook. We ate it outdoors for the first time this year and felt very summery and full of hope.

PS. Orzo is my new favourite thing. It’s basically pasta shaped like rice and you can buy it in most supermarkets, although it is a bit more expensive than regular pasta. My children love it, especially mixed with cheese, butter and frozen peas to make a risotto like dish (without all the stirring).

Orzo with purple sprouting broccoli, lemon and ricotta

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons of good olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • 400g of orzo
  • 230g of purple sprouting broccoli or thereabouts (this is the prepared uncooked weight)
  • The zest of one lemon
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 100-200g of ricotta cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a wok or frying pan, heat until smoking then remove from the heat and add the garlic and chilli (if using). Give it a quick stir and set aside.

Cook the orzo according to the packet instructions (or until just cooked through which is often longer than the packet says in my experience). Meanwhile, prepare the broccoli by separating the florets and leaves from the stalks and slicing finely any thick stalks. One minute before the orzo is cooked (you’ll just have to use your best guess here) add the broccoli to the boiling water. Then drain both.

Return the wok/frying pan to a medium heat and add the drained orzo and broccoli to the flavoured oil. Give everything a good stir, then add the lemon zest and juice and season well with salt and pepper.

To serve, crumble over the ricotta cheese and drizzle over a little more olive oil.

Note: If you’re an avid carnivore who needs meat with every meal, then sprinkle some crispy fried bacon over the top.

This dish would also make a good accompaniment for a piece of grilled chicken or fish, or as a cold dish as part of a bigger buffet.


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