Recipe: Basil Pesto Orzo

Nov 19, 2019 | Dr. Anne Shandera-Ochsner, HABIT Midwest Director | @dranneshanderaochsner


As the weather turns cooler, many of us find ourselves gravitating toward warm, cozy dishes such as pasta. Pesto is a great topping for whole grain pasta, with lots of brain-healthy olive oil as the star ingredient.

This dish was served at one of our recent HABIT sessions. Chef John Kessler of the La Crosse Country Club in Onalaska, Wisconsin, was kind enough to share his recipe with us. boosts the nutritional profile with lots of yummy roasted veggies, making this a complete meal in one bowl.

Bon Appetite!

Basil Pesto Orzo Recipe

  • 1 cup orzo
  • 3 tbsp pesto, bought or homemade (recipe below)
  • 2 cups roasted vegetables: zucchini, yellow squash, sundried tomatoes, onions, all work great as well as many others (spinach, kale, or other leafy greens can also be added at the end)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or 2 tbsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • splash of lemon from one lemon
  • Garnish: goat cheese, feta or Parmesan cheese


  • ROAST VEGETABLES: Cut vegetables into bite size pieces and toss with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven at 350 degrees for ten minutes or until tender.
  • BOIL ORZO: In a medium pot, bring water with a tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add orzo and boil for about 10 minutes until orzo is al dente. Drain and put into large bowl or pot.
  • Basil Pesto Recipe: Process in food processor until smooth: 1 cup packed Basil leaves, 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/4 olive oil. (makes 1/2 cup)
  • In a large bowl or pot place the orzo and mix in pesto. Add vegetables and gently mix or place orzo on plate or bowl and top with vegetables. Grilled chicken breast or proteins can be added as well.


Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) blog.

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