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Creamy Lemon Orzo with Chickpeas & Broccoli

5 from 21 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 4


  • 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 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


  • 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.


Recipe 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.
Creamy lemon orzo with chickpeas and broccoli is a complete, quick, and hearty vegan meal. Totally dairy-free and made with simple ingredients.