Creamy Lemon Orzo with Chickpeas & Broccoli

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 30 votes

Creamy lemon orzo with chickpeas and broccoli is a complete, quick, and hearty vegan meal. Made with simple ingredients.

Overhead shot of creamy lemon orzo in a wide braiser pot with broccoli florets and chickpeas. There is a wooden spoon scooping up the orzo.

Ready within 40 minutes, this creamy and dreamy lemon orzo is a luscious and satisfying plant-based meal that comes together in one pan on the stovetop (without cream!). It’s made with simple, wholesome ingredients like orzo pasta, vegetable stock, lemon, garlic, parsley, chickpeas, and broccoli. Filled with bright flavours (lemon zest and juice!), plenty of fiber and plant-based protein, plus a silky finish from some quick homemade cashew cream, this satisfying and quick dinner recipe is a good one to keep in your back pocket.

Up close overhead shot of creamy lemon orzo in a wide braiser pot with broccoli florets and chickpeas. There is a wooden spoon scooping up the orzo.

Corny as it sounds, this creamy lemon orzo is a legitimate one pot wonder. I generally love to complicate the heck out of my recipes and add a bunch of steps/ingredients for the sake of building flavour, texture etc., but this! This is different. It’s a complete meal that cooks up fast. The texture is super creamy and comforting. It has that most undoubtedly excellent flavour combination of lemon, garlic, and parsley. The remaining ingredients are also pretty chill and accessible!

The broccoli is browned up a bit and left alone for a few minutes, and then the creamy orzo and chickpeas are pumped up with flavour assists from shallots, garlic, lemon, and thyme (and some chili flakes if you love a bit of heat–you all know that I do!). Vegetable stock and a dreamy drizzle of cashew cream smoothes it all out and makes our finished orzo SO. LUSH.

This one is hard to mess up, and it’s so satisfying and delicious–it really doesn’t matter what kind of eater you are. As always, I’m trying to make beautiful vegan food for everyone. One tip I will mention though: one pan orzo recipes like this absolutely love to stick to the bottom of the pan. Remember to stir often and give the bottom of the pot a scrape every once in a while.

Hope you enjoy this pot of creamy carbs! If you need more inspiration on that front, I’ve got you. Creamy Vegan Butternut Orzo will do the trick as well as my Mushroom Asparagus Orzo. If you’d like a more traditional risotto meal, check out my Easy Vegan Instant Pot Mushroom Risotto!

A 3/4 angle shot shows a wooden spoon stirring up a creamy lemon orzo with broccoli and chickpeas in a pot.
An overhead shot shows an individual bowl serving of creamy lemon orzo with chickpeas and broccoli. The bowl is ceramic and speckled with blue dots.

Creamy Lemon Orzo with Chickpeas & Broccoli

Creamy lemon orzo with chickpeas and broccoli is a satisfying, quick, and healthy vegan meal made on the stovetop with just one pan. A weeknight winner!
5 from 30 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
  • cup water
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups small broccoli florets
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced (about ¼ cup diced shallot)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • ½ lb (227 grams) orzo pasta
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed (from about one 15 oz can)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock, plus extra
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

Equipment

Notes

  • As with any recipe on my site that requires vegetable stock, I’d highly recommend making your own using my method here.
  • This recipe may behave differently with a gluten-free orzo or other tiny pasta. Regular wheat-based pasta lets off a lot of creamy starch. If you’re using GF pasta, I’d start with only 1 ½ cups of the vegetable stock and add more as it cooks if necessary.
  • If you’re allergic to nuts, you can substitute the cashew cream with ½  cup of any unsweetened non-dairy creamer/rich milk. Coconut milk might be a bit weird here, so soy would be preferable.
  • Definitely make some vegan “parm” to go with this! I have a recipe here.
  • I find that one pan orzo recipes like this just love to stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir often, scraping up the bottom of the pan, to avoid this!

Instructions

  • In an upright blender, combine the drained cashews, filtered water, and nutritional yeast. Blend on high until you have a smooth cream and set aside.
  • Place a braiser-style pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.
  • Add all the broccoli to the pot and scatter it out into a single layer. Press it down and leave it for 4 full minutes, or until browning occurs on the underside of the florets and broccoli is turning bright green. The exterior should be ever-so-slightly softened. Season the broccoli with salt and pepper, lightly toss, and then transfer to a bowl and set aside. It will continue cooking and this is totally fine.
  • Wipe out the pot and return it to the heat. Add the remaining olive oil and swirl it around. Add the shallot to the pot and stir. Cook shallots until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, lemon zest, and chili flakes (if using). Stir and cook until the garlic is quite fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the orzo pasta and stir to coat in the seasoning and shallots. Add the chickpeas, stir to combine, and then season the mixture liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Add the vegetable stock to the pot and stir. Bring the creamy lemon orzo to a boil and then simmer until orzo is soft, about 8 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot often. The orzo will want to stick to the bottom of the pot! Just keep stirring and adding more vegetable stock if necessary. You want to keep the consistency nice and fluid.
  • Once the orzo is soft and the mixture is starting to get creamy, add the cashew cream to the pot and stir to combine. Add the lemon juice to the creamy lemon orzo and stir. Add the broccoli back in and stir. Bring the creamy lemon orzo back up to a simmer. Check the dish for seasoning and adjust if necessary (more salt, lemon etc). Stir in the chopped parsley and serve immediately with vegan “parm” and extra chili flakes.
23/10/2019 (Last Updated 05/06/2024)
Posted in: autumn, broccoli, chickpeas, creamy, gluten free option, main course, pasta, quick, refined sugar-free, salty, side dish, spring, summer, vegan, winter

43 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Alexandra

    5 stars
    Creamy and delicious! I loved the flavors, crunch of the broccoli, and warmth of this dish.

  • Marianne

    5 stars
    This is so good! I had all the ingredients except orzo… I decided to try it with macaroni instead of orzo and it worked perfectly with more broth added while cooking. Thanks for this recipe, I will be making it again for sure!

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Marianne!

      Really appreciate your feedback on using a different pasta shape. I know it will be helpful for lots of folks looking at this recipe in the future!

      -L

  • Brenda Nejedlo

    5 stars
    Oh, my goodness, this is delicious. It was easy to make and came together quickly. I added a bit of red pepper that I had to use up. Spinach would also be a lovely addition, if one had some to use up. When serving, I added a bit more lemon juice to the top. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!

  • Lindsay

    5 stars
    Holy cow this is delicious! This is amazingly cream and indulgent. I didn’t have time to let the cashews soak, so I boiled them for 15 minutes and the cream came out just fine. I used whole wheat orzo, and the cook time was right around 8 minutes as the recipe states. Thanks for posting this!

  • Lisa

    5 stars
    What a lovely, easy, delicious recipe. Thank you! It made for an amazing weeknight meal.

  • Joei

    5 stars
    I am late to the party here in 2022. But this was YUM! Not a vegan but have been slowly adding more And more plant based meals. This one will go into regular rotation! I might add more lemon.

  • Emily O'Connor

    5 stars
    This was DELICIOUS.  I actually broiled the broccoli while I was preparing the onion/orzo mixture to save a few minutes of time and it worked out well.  I didn’t have cashews on hand, so I added 1/4 cup of oat milk and a few tablespoons of the vegan Boursin and it was an awesome addition.  Will be adding this to my weekly repertoire!  Thanks Laura!

  • Will

    5 stars
    Really enjoyed this.  Has anyone tried this cold?  Was thinking of using it as a side for a grilled meal.

  • Marylynn

    5 stars
    Swoon!

  • Jen

    5 stars
    I’m usually gluten-free, but this recipe looked so good, I had to try it, even though I couldn’t find gluten-free orzo. It was so delicious. It’s creamy, carby, lemony goodness that is also filling (thanks to the chickpeas) and colorful (thanks to the broccoli). I don’t like nutritional yeast so I added a bit of Violife vegan parm instead. I recommend this recipe highly. It’s really wonderful. Thank you, Laura!

  • Caitlin Hawksley

    5 stars
    This recipe is GOLD. I loved how creamy it was! A note from my experience: Add the lemon juice gradually, and taste as you go. I found I preferred a little less than a full tablespoon of lemon juice. Delicious!

  • Sheila

    Made this for dinner last night and it is SO yummy and comes together really quickly. Will definitely be making again, thank you for another awesome recipe!

  • Lauren

    Made this last night and it was delicious!! I used an even smaller pasta than orzo and had to add a bit more water/broth, and I also left the broccoli on the heat for a couple minutes extra, but overall it came together beautifully! Would definitely make again!

  • JD

    This was delicious! So delicious I put it on the menu for a second week in a row lol. Very easy to make! The only issue I had was blending up such a small amount of cashew cream in my vitamix but I’m going to double it this week for leftovers so that should take care of that. Thanks!

  • Lemonhead

    NEW FAVORITE!

    Made this last night, it was amazing. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of creamy richness the cashew cream added, and the broccoli turned out perfect when cooked in this way!I like things really lemony, so I used the juice and zest of a the whole lemon. Added a splash of water to reheat for leftovers today, but had I thought ahead I would have reserved a bit of the lemon juice and cashew cream and it would be perfect! I will have to double the recipe next time, we scarfed this down!

  • ki Re k

    is there a way that i could omit the chickpeas?

    • Laura

      Yes! You could substitute any bean/lentil that you like or you could even include more broccoli/another vegetable that you like!
      -L

  • Laura

    Hi Laura, going to make this tonight. However, forgot to buy nutritional yeast. As an alternative for a hint of like flavor can I use Parmesan (we are not vegan)? Your recipes are my go to, so thanks for all that you create and share.

    • Laura

      You can definitely substitute parmesan! ;)
      -L

  • asa

    very good! does not reheat well though, loses the creamy texture completely. Best served fresh

  • Sherry Gensemer

    I’m making a couple meals for a housebound friend that is vegan. I used oatmilk instead of the cashew milk, and I’ll make it again for us.

  • Madhu

    What is nutrition yeast? Is it same as the yeast used for baking?

  • Tre

    Has anyone tried this with cauliflower?

  • Brenna

    Holy crap. Only soaked my cashews in hot water for 5 min, worked great- also, I didn’t have orzo, so I used Trader Joe’s GF red lentil spaghetti. Just reduced the stock down further (not as creamy as orzo), and then added cashew sauce. SO good and easy!!! Thank you, Laura! <3

  • Julia P.

    Made this tonight for me and my hubs. It was so delish! I made a couple of minor adjustments (used chicken bone broth instead of veg and topped it with real parm) but otherwise followed the recipe to a T and it was perfect. I’m so grateful for you, Laura, this website, and your book which is my #1 favorite cookbook ever!

  • Katie

    Just made this, and doubled it to stock the freezer with. Delicious and comforting! A perfect late fall meal. My family will love it.

  • Tracy Tidwell

    Just made this. Its fantastic. Thank you.

  • eva @CostumeTakeOut

    This recipe hit my inbox this morning at exactly the right time!…I needed something quick–and I am plant-forward,love nutritional yeast, and had so very little time to cook today for me and my girls…so this idea was a life-saver…ps sauteing the broccoli before and putting it to the side is a great idea–I also do this for stir-frys and then at the very end throw everything to warm up–really preserves the crispiness of the veggies!

  • Kathryn

    You had me at “pot of creamy carbs.” ;)
    Also, your statement about millions making small changes over a handful of perfect people is such a succinct and easy to understand explanation of why even leaning plant-based matters. I will definitely be sharing it. Thank you!

  • Elizabeth

    This looks so good! Anything creamy with broccoli goes straight on my list of recipes to make soon. So grateful, as always, for what you share in this space, including your positive vibes!

  • Larissa

    Scratch all meal plans! I’m making this NOW

  • Christine Wohlleben

    Hi Laura! As usual I am really looking forward to making this recipe. Thank you for the note about gluten free pasta, what about a starchy rice like arborio? I think this is on the menu tonight!

    • Laura

      Hi Christine,
      Using arborio rice would change the cooking time and the ratio of liquid quite a bit. Might be best to follow a traditional risotto recipe if that’s all you have on hand!
      -L

      • Christine Wohlleben

        Thanks! Forgot how quickly orzo cooks – I’ll look for the gf version mentioned above.

  • Misty Fenech

    Yesyesyes. This is perfect.

    Just a note, that I’ve had success with DeLallo’s gluten-free orzo creating a creamy consistency, if anyone really needs to keep this gluten-free.

    • Laura

      Such a great suggestion! Thanks so much :)
      -L

      • Katie

        I’m sorry to ask such a dumb question, but why must the water be filtered? Does bottles water count as filtered?

        • Laura

          Hi Katie,
          It’s not a dumb question at all. I always recommend filtered water from a flavour perspective. I just prefer it personally in my cooking/everyday life. If your local tap water tastes good, you can 100% use that!
          -L

    • April Whitehead

      Could I substitute the cashew cream for some kind of cheese if I’m not vegan? Thank you!

      • Laura

        Hi April!
        Yep, you could definitely substitute cream cheese or just an equal amount of dairy-based cream/milk.
        -L

    • Christine Wohlleben

      Thanks Misty! That helps a lot.