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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Pesto Orzo with Broccoli #FoodieReads

I was inspired to share this after reading Vacation Wars by Meghan Quinn.

On the Page

I had an interesting reaction to Vacation Wars by Meghan Quinn. On one hand, the sibling disfunction was almost too ridiculous to bear. But I am an only child who instilled kindness into her children's relationships. So, who knows? Perhaps there are siblings who are this cruel to each other. On the other hand, I couldn't stop reading for the almost too predictable romantic plot thread.

A couple of caveats: the antics of the women are juvenile and the sex scenes seem unnecessarily smutty and numerous. Still I finished the book, so that is saying something.

Tessa, her twin sister, and their two best friends are on Santorini to spend the weeks before Tessa's sister’s wedding at the resort where the girls had spent every summer during their childhood and adolescence. And while the trio scheme and connive to help Tessa find love, she runs into the arms of her childhood crush who turns out to the be son of the resort's owner.

On the Plate

Given that the book is set in Greece, there are quite a few Mediterranean meals eaten and enjoyed. Hummus, peppers-and-steak gyro, and bowls and bowls of samsades. I will have to try my hand at those soon. I read that samsades are a traditional Greek dessert made of phyllo dough surrounding a filling of spiced nuts, baked, and then drenched in sugar or honey syrup, local thyme honey, or grape must (petimezi).

But, for this post, I was inspired by the meal that Myles orders after Tessa laced her sister and friend's cupcakes with a laxative. "Tessa was starving by the time the poop-capades started, so I called ahead and put in an order for two oven-roasted lamb entrées served on a bed of orzo."

Pesto Orzo with Broccoli

Pesto is a sauce that originated in the Ligurian region of northern Italy. Pesto genovese, from Genoa, traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil, and pine nuts blended with olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano. The name derives from the Italian verb pestare which means to pound or to crush, referring to the original way of preparing it - with a mortar and pestle. The ingredients in a traditional pesto are ground with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar. Now I use a food processor. It's much easier! And...I use whatever greens and nuts I happen to have on-hand. So, for this version, I made a pesto with basil and almonds..



  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed, dried, and destemmed

  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1/2 cup whole raw almonds

  • 3/4 cup shredded parmesan

  • juice from 1 organic lemon (I used Meyer lemon because my parents have a tree in their backyard)

  • olive oil as needed


  • 1 package orzo, cooked according to package instructions

  • 2 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces and blanched

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonaded

  • olive oil as needed

  • freshly ground salt

  • freshly ground pepper



Place all of the ingredients into the blender or the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, drizzle in a few glugs of olive oil, and resume pulsing. Pulse. Oil. Pulse. Oil.

If you want a smoother, sauce-like pesto, add more olive oil and blend longer; if you want a chunkier pesto, use less oil and blend for less time. So simple. So fresh. So fragrant.


Place pesto - as much as you like - in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add in blanched florets and cooked orzo. Toss to coat with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with some fresh whole basil leaves.

I am adding this to the June #FoodieReads challenge.

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Wendy Klik
Wendy Klik

I'll pass on that book. I'm reading one right now that Roz gave me called The Teacher.....strange book, but like you, I just keep on reading it LOL

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