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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 in less than 30 minutes. 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!). 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 doesn’t matter what kind of eater you are. As always, I’m trying to make beautiful vegan food for everyone. I know and feel these strong shifts toward plant-based food happening in our world lately. It’s powerful! But I also recognize that some people are slow to change because of convenience, accessibility, and just personal preferences. Meeting halfway can seriously make a world of difference in terms of resources used. We need millions of people trying to change a few small things in their life; not a handful of people doing everything perfectly.

Hope you enjoy this pot of creamy carbs! :D Sending a big hug this week.

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Print the recipe here!
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.

¼ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
⅓ cup filtered water
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
4 cups small broccoli florets
sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste
1 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 15oz can)
2 cups vegetable stock, plus extra
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
big handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

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.

  • Misty Fenech23/10/2019 - 10:12 am

    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.ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/10/2019 - 11:39 am

      Such a great suggestion! Thanks so much :)

      • Katie01/11/2019 - 3:50 pm

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

        • Laura04/11/2019 - 9:05 am

          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!

    • April Whitehead23/10/2019 - 4:05 pm

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

      • Laura04/11/2019 - 9:13 am

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

    • Christine Wohlleben23/10/2019 - 4:34 pm

      Thanks Misty! That helps a lot.ReplyCancel

  • Christine Wohlleben23/10/2019 - 11:27 am

    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!ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/10/2019 - 11:39 am

      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!

      • Christine Wohlleben23/10/2019 - 4:35 pm

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

  • Larissa23/10/2019 - 11:32 am

    Scratch all meal plans! I’m making this NOWReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth23/10/2019 - 1:04 pm

    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!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn23/10/2019 - 1:54 pm

    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!ReplyCancel

  • eva @CostumeTakeOut23/10/2019 - 10:12 pm

    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!ReplyCancel

  • Tracy Tidwell26/10/2019 - 6:23 pm

    Just made this. Its fantastic. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Katie05/11/2019 - 9:16 pm

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

  • Julia P.23/11/2019 - 8:21 pm

    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!ReplyCancel

  • Brenna14/12/2019 - 11:13 pm

    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! <3ReplyCancel

  • Tre23/12/2019 - 5:45 pm

    Has anyone tried this with cauliflower?ReplyCancel

  • Madhu18/02/2020 - 7:48 pm

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

  • Sherry Gensemer15/03/2020 - 2:01 pm

    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.ReplyCancel

  • asa14/05/2020 - 8:56 pm

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

  • Laura15/05/2020 - 7:58 pm

    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.ReplyCancel

    • Laura16/05/2020 - 7:54 am

      You can definitely substitute parmesan! ;)

  • ki Re k03/06/2020 - 11:22 am

    is there a way that i could omit the chickpeas?ReplyCancel

    • Laura17/06/2020 - 3:58 pm

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

  • Lemonhead07/06/2020 - 4:09 pm


    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!ReplyCancel

  • JD09/06/2020 - 7:23 pm

    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!ReplyCancel

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