A detox of sorts

April 9, 2010

Orzo with Roasted Broccolini and Parsley Vinaigrette

I’m not too fond of detox diets and cleanses. Strike that. I scorn detox diets and cleanses. At least those which require days of lemon water, vegetable broth and carrot sticks or special potions consisting of maple syrup and cayenne pepper. I get crabby just thinking about not eating real food. It kind of makes me want a cheeseburger. So without getting too heated about it here (I love a juicy fad diet debate) I’ll politely tell you to blow off those detox diet claims and click past the “healthy” cleanse formula infomercials. I guarantee that bikini-clad spokes-model would not have the energy to happily prance down the beach on a diet of water and acai berry extract. I’m just sayin’.

Anyways, should you come to me looking for advice about a detox diet I will gladly give you the run down. Eat real food – good food, drink plenty of water and move your body. Groundbreaking, isn’t it? Detox can be healthy if it means you’re filling up on whole foods and abstaining from the white stuff (I’m talking sugar and white flour) and alcohol. I’ll be honest, following this past holiday weekend I was in need of a “detox”. I had my fill of Cadbury Cream Eggs (oh yes, the dietitian did just say she eats these), ham, scalloped potatoes and vino. My body was craving green. My body demanded broccolini.  

Oooh, do I love this salad! It sort of makes me want to twirl around on an Austrian hilltop singing The Hills Are Alive. If that isn’t proof of an effective detox, I don’t know what is. Nutty whole wheat orzo, crisp-tender and slightly charred vegetables, bright lemon parsley vinaigrette. Just looking at it makes me feel like myself again. Adios, sugar coma.

If you’ve never tried whole wheat orzo, do! I much prefer it to regular (white) orzo and I’m not just saying that because it’s my job to promote whole grains. If you can’t find broccolini, substitute asparagus or more green beans.

Any semi-soft cheese would work here, though feta tends to be my go-to. The saltiness pairs really well with the bright tang of the vinaigrette.

Orzo with Roasted Broccolini and Parsley Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup whole wheat orzo
  • 1/2 lb broccolini, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • feta cheese

Parsley Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup lightly packed flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil. Add 1 tsp kosher salt and orzo and cook until al dente according to package directions (about 8 minutes). Drain pasta and set aside.

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the broccolini and green beans together with some olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper. Roast for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown and crisp tender.

Prepare the dressing: In a food processor or blender, combine the parsley through black pepper and pulse to combine. With motor running, stream in olive oil.

In a large bowl, toss together the cooked orzo, roasted vegetables and vinaigrette. Check for seasonings and serve topped with feta cheese.

  1. Nicole

    April 9, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Looks amazing! This is going on my must-make-as-soon-as-possible list.

  2. Tom

    April 9, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Everything you make looks delicious!

  3. Tracy

    April 9, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    I totally agree with everything you said. Seriously, I just wish that people would learn to eat. Whole foods, moderation, exercise. It’s the easiest recipe there is. Another fantastic post, btw.

  4. M.

    April 9, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    so healthy, amazing and spring like…. I love the idea of Parsley Vinaigrette.

  5. Estela @ Weekly Bite

    April 9, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more on detox diets!!! It drives me crazy when people ask me about them! Like you said… they just need to eat REAL food! And drink a ton of water!!!

  6. Allison from "a for aubergine"

    April 9, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    this looks so easy to make. i’ve never worked with orzo and have wanted to try; this post is inspiring me!

  7. I share your opinion on detox… why would you need one if you eat a balance diet in the first place? I did not know that Orzo could come whole-grain. I’ll look for it in my next trip to the supermarket. It’s so delicious with greens (my favorite is with leeks). Great recipe! PS: Do you ever use red wine vinegar? I am not sure French people would make a vinaigrette with white wine vinegar….just saying…

  8. Carolyn

    April 10, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Gaelle: I like RiceSelect orzo if you can find it. I do like red wine vinegar and use red and white interchangeably. You could certainly use red here.

  9. Marie

    April 10, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    What a timely recipe for me! Just got a bit down after a nutrition seminar because it turns out I’m not eating as balanced of a diet as I could/should be. Oh well, from here on out!

  10. Laura

    April 11, 2010 at 4:09 pm


  11. Sara

    April 11, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    the vinaigrette sounds like such a perfect thing to have in the fridge for salad, eggs and what not. yum!

  12. Katie @ Cozydelicious

    April 12, 2010 at 9:58 am

    This looks wonderful. I love when food, real food, just makes you feel good. And your parsely dressing seems like it would be great on almost anything! I bet it would be lovely drizzled on grilled fish. Yum!

  13. John

    April 12, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Carolyn, I am a first time visitor, and this blog is fantastic. The pictures, the presentation, the writing – wonderful. Anyway, I was wondering if I could pick the brain of a nutritionist-foodie (your brain). I am the child of a food-critic father and a mother who cooked wonderfully and made my life too easy. So I love healthy tasty food, but I am too lazy most of the time to cook it. I am accustomed to having instantaneous delicious whole foods, but now that I am out on my own, I eat quick and easy foods like turkey sandwiches, yogurt, fruits and nuts. I need/want more veggies, but when I buy them they usually go bad because I am too lazy/untrained to take the time to prepare them. Any advice/suggestions?

  14. Carolyn

    April 13, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Sara and Katie: Yes! I think this vinaigrette would spice up a number of things.

    John: Ah, the million dollar vegetable question — How to prepare simple instantaneous delicious healthy vegetables. The good news is preparing delicious healthy vegetables is doable, even for the “untrained” as you say. The sort-of bad news is that it will require a teeny bit of work and a little time, so I’m afraid laziness won’t cut it and I can’t guarantee instant. :) But, it’s easy and fun!

    Cold (if you dig salads): Once a week, buy a variety of your favorite fresh produce (peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc). Take 20 minutes to wash and chop it into bite size pieces. Stash in a container in the fridge for near-instant salads all week. If you’re packing to-go, line the bottom of a container with the chopped vegetables, other toppings of choice and dressing, then top with lettuce. Shake before serving.

    Hot: Roasting or quick sauteing are my go-to methods for quick (and practically hands-off) vegetable sides. Buy whatever looks good that week, for example a bunch of asparagus or green beans. Once home, wash and trim them and stash in the fridge. If you’re roasting, on a sheet pan toss the asparagus in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast for 15 minutes at 425 F (roasting times vary for different vegetables). Or, saute a clove of garlic in some olive oil then add the prepped asparagus and saute over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until crisp tender. Season with S&P. Voila!

    Prepping is more than half the battle. If you have washed/trimmed vegetables in the fridge, you’re more likely to use them. Hope this helps! Thanks for your comments!

  15. Donna

    April 13, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Made this orzo and it was delicious! Thanks again for another great recipe! Is too much of a good thing bad I wonder because I ate a whole lot of this dish for dinner!

  16. Cathy

    April 19, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    So what exactly is broccolini?…small broccoli?…where do we buy it? This recipe sounds great–tho I have never seen whole wheat orzo………….so let me know..

  17. Liz

    April 26, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Just a note that I came across this post a couple weeks ago and have made this delicious orzo salad three times already! I really love it; the parsley vinaigrette is just wonderful, lemony and fresh. It’s perfect for spring.

    On the last go ’round, I roasted some halved mushrooms with the other vegetables (broccolini and asparagus) and liked the addition.

    Thanks SO much, Carolyn, for sharing this recipe! I can see myself puttering away in my kitchen, making this for years to come…

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