Parmesan Kale Orzo and Grilled Zucchini with Pesto Aioli

This light and flavorful plant-based meal was inspired by all the good stuff we have in our garden this month. I’m sure it’s psychological, but I always think produce that I grow myself tastes twice as good as any other vegetable. Also, the fresh basil that I brought inside to make the pesto left our house smelling delicious for days!

Parmesan Kale Orzo & Grilled Zucchini with Pesto Aioli

Ingredients (Serves 4 to 6):

8 oz (about 1/2 box) orzo pasta

Two handfuls kale

1 large tomato

1/2 red onion

1 can chickpeas

3 large zucchini

1 packed cup fresh basil

1/4 cup almonds

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 cup parmesan cheese, divided

Olive oil for drizzling

Heat the grill and slice your zucchini. We used about half of a gigantic zucchini that someone locally grew and gave to my wife, so I sliced it into medallions the size of small steaks. If you are using normal sized zucchini, I would recommend slicing it lengthwise into oblong pieces. Place the zucchini on a baking sheet, drizzle both sides with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill, flipping as needed, until tender.

Meanwhile, chop your tomato and kale into bite sized pieces and slice the red onion. Drain and rinse the canned chickpeas. Cook orzo according to package directions (about 8 minutes in boiling water for al dente pasta). Drain pasta and drizzle in a little olive oil. Mix in tomato, onion, kale, chickpeas, and 3/4 cup parmesan. Set aside.

Make the pesto aioli by combining basil leaves, almonds, and 1/4 cup parmesan in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is fine crumbs. Add 1/2 cup mayo and process until smooth and creamy.

Put some of the orzo and zucchini on each plate and top zucchini with a dollop of aioli. Serve with a side salad and enjoy.

Like anything grilled, I think this meal is best eaten al fresco. Who wouldn’t want to eat a farm-to-table meal outside on the actual farm?
What is it with cats and zucchinis? I kept catching Chester in the laundry room staring at this giant squash. I tried to tell him that it was a vegetable, not a monster, but he didn’t believe me until I cut into it and showed him the inside.

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