Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

In Washington, the months of October through May can be pretty gray, and month after month of gray can be a bit of a downer.

Today, for about a half hour, I saw blue sky.  No, this is not a metaphor for life — there was blue, and even a spark of sun!

It’s the first week of April and officially Spring.  The local farmer’s markets opened their season this weekend, and the vendors were just as enthusiastic as I was about the glimmer of hope in the sky.

I visited the Gig Harbor Farmer’s Market today, and while not heavy on fruits and vegetables, there were plants and herbs ready to be potted.  Fresh salsa, homemade tamales and chocolate croissants (my personal favorite).

Yes, the patrons had their raincoats on (just in case) because we Washingtonians are always prepared.  But alas, the rain held off and we all delighted in the ease of a Saturday farmer’s market.

Inspired by the season to come, I wanted something fresh and light for dinner.

Orzo, although a pasta, is never heavy and really perfect for a salad.

This is really a perfect combination of ingredients — fresh lemon, earthy asparagus and sweet tomatoes.  Top that with salty Parmigiano Reggiano, and you are good to go.

This is perfect to bring to a barbeque or potluck because it’s great at room temperature.  Pair it with some grilled chicken or shrimp for a more hearty meal.

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

12 oz. orzo
1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lemon, zested and juiced
4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, minced
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano*

Bring 2 large pots of water to boil.  Add a big pinch of salt in each.

To one pot, add asparagus and blanch, about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus.  Place blanched asparagus in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and keep them green.

To the second pot, add the orzo.  Cook per package instructions.  When tender, drain and place in a large bowl.  Add blanched asparagus and tomato halves.

Mix olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Stir into orzo and vegetables.  Stir in parsley and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

This can be served warm, room temperature or cold.

*Note:  If you want to keep this salad vegan, leave out the Parmigiano Reggiano.

Bonus awesomeness: Illustrator Rae Ritchie drew my orzo salad recipe and it is amazing! Check it out. What a talent!

Author: Adrienne | Categories: Home Cooking + Recipes | Comments: 117


  1. Posted April 6, 2011 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

    so simple and delishus! I think i will make this this week with farro!

  2. Posted April 10, 2011 at 11:32 PM | Permalink

    I made this tonight and it was amazing! Simple and quick to make.

  3. Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:15 AM | Permalink

    Looks delicious, orzo works so well in salads, beautiful colours too!

  4. Posted October 14, 2011 at 1:11 PM | Permalink

    I just found you via Pinterest, and this looks SO GOOD. Ingredients I almost always have on hand, too. So going to have this next week. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Posted January 2, 2012 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    I found your recipe on Pinterest and it is delish! Thanks so much for sharing =)

  6. Maria N
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

    Very delicious , you wanna have it every day.

  7. Kara
    Posted January 10, 2012 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

    Also found on Pinterest! Made it tonight but added quinoa and chicken for protein and it was SO good!

  8. Posted January 10, 2012 at 10:43 PM | Permalink

    Kara, What a great idea! Love it when people add their own twists to recipes to make it work for them.

  9. Posted January 26, 2012 at 3:56 PM | Permalink

    I rarely comment on recipes but this one is deserved. I, too, devour this. In fact, I made it 2 nights ago and have eaten it for ever meal since. It makes a great presentation! I have been in love with this recipe since I first found it this summer. THANK YOU! (found you through pinterest also)

  10. Robin in New Jersey
    Posted February 25, 2012 at 7:45 AM | Permalink

    This looks delicious. I can’t wait to try it.

  11. Posted February 26, 2012 at 4:07 AM | Permalink

    I found this on pinterest this week, and we made it tonight for dinner. Absolutely delicious!! TFS

  12. Posted March 7, 2012 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

    This is so delicious and super easy to make!! I saw it on a friend’s Pinterest and just had to try it. I followed the recipe because I happen to have the ingredients on hand but I can see making it your own:)

  13. Jennifer
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

    Delightful! I just made this for my husbands birthday, it was a huge hit. I oven roasted the asparagus instead of boiling it. Thank you for posting on pinterest.

  14. Leslie
    Posted March 31, 2012 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

    I lived in Kirkland, WA. most of my life so I totally related to your description of the weather, spring, and the farmer’s market….so miss Washington….but not the rain. I live in Boise, ID now. Love the sunshine and warm weather but still miss home and the greenery. Gig Harbor rocks…..you lucky person! Thanks for the blog.

  15. Posted April 14, 2012 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    I’m going to try this it sounds and looks so good :)

  16. Posted April 14, 2012 at 3:11 PM | Permalink

    I can’t wait to make and eat this. Thank you so much for sharing :)

  17. Lauren
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 9:47 PM | Permalink

    Questions: Can this be made the night before? How many people does this serve?

    Your recipe looks amazing!

  18. Posted May 31, 2012 at 11:51 AM | Permalink

    Lauren, Yes, it can be made the night before. I would refresh it before serving with a squeeze more of lemon juice and taste it for seasoning. It serves 6-8 as a side dish with small portions, or 4-6 with more generous portions. Enjoy!

  19. Caroline
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 6:46 PM | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this recipe – loved it – I might try balsamic vinegar instead of the lemon next time – it won’t be as pretty, but it sure will be good – also might try some goat cheese instead to switch it up a bit. Great recipe!

  20. Posted June 12, 2012 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

    LOVE this! So delicious! A summer staple for sure!

  21. Lee Findley
    Posted June 13, 2012 at 9:56 PM | Permalink

    I made this simple, delicious recipe tonight. With the addition of a bet more zest and juice of lemon as my extra-virgin was not extra-expensive so I suspected it would be somewhat heavy.
    Served with grilled skinless, boneless chicken breast (using the same dressing ingredients for a quick marinade) . It was wonderful, Thanks! Lee

  22. Posted July 7, 2012 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

    Found this recipe on Pinterest and made it tonight for the first time. It is wonderful & we will definitely be making it again & again this summer–especially looking forward to using my own tomatoes as they ripen. Thank you!

  23. cindi smyth
    Posted July 15, 2012 at 7:03 PM | Permalink

    You had me at lemon!

  24. Sarah Ann Showell
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

    wonderful, dont use entire lemon though. just add it to taste, thought it was too tart with the entire lemon juiced

  25. Katrina
    Posted September 5, 2012 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

    I found this recipe on Pinterest and made it earlier this afternoon! It’s completely delicious! I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow.

    I considered adding pearl onions, but I didn’t. Maybe next time I will, since it seems like they might be an interesting addition.

  26. Posted October 1, 2012 at 5:08 AM | Permalink

    Lovely salad. I made it with beans, as Asparagus is not so easily available in Chennai, India. Writing this as I am relishing the salad

  27. Kitty McGurer
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 4:50 PM | Permalink

    I found this Lemon Orzo Salad on Pinterest. I always have some kind of a salad on hand for “snacking”, and this one has now moved to the top of our favorites list! I did add a little bit of Kraft’s Lite Raspberry Vinegarette dressing to my serving to “sweeten” it up a little, but my hubby loves it just the way it is with the tart lemon flavor. BRAVO!! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  28. Maggie
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 1:37 AM | Permalink

    Found this recipe on Pinterest, and made it for valentine’s day dinner. It was sooo delicious and easy to make! It’s definitely going into our dinner rotation!

  29. Julia
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:33 PM | Permalink

    Made this for lunch today, very delicious. I had no parsley on hand so substituted basil and added garbanzo beans for some extra protein. Thanks for a quick and healthy recipe!

  30. linda
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

    For anyone who is vegan nutritional yeast would work in place of the cheese.

  31. annette
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 11:10 PM | Permalink

    So delicious! I just made it and and i’m so happy I did.

  32. Beth
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

    I made this for visiting company and it was a great success. I plan on taking it to a Womans Club Potuck tomorrow. I’m thinking some shrimp would go nicely in this dish also. Thanks!

  33. Kim
    Posted May 16, 2013 at 1:47 PM | Permalink

    Just made this salad and its simple and delicious! It’s the perfect light summer salad! Yum!

  34. Carmen
    Posted June 22, 2013 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    I am bringing this salad to a potluck today and I am sure everyone is going to like it as much as I do. Simple ingredients with beautiful colours and delicious taste are just perfect. Thank you for sharing!

  35. Kathy
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

    Made this for dinner tonight and we loved it!!!!

  36. Deb
    Posted July 4, 2013 at 4:24 PM | Permalink

    This is my favorite summer salad! The ingredients are all so simple, but it is delicious!! If I make it the day before, I add more lemon juice and olive oil to freshen it up!!

  37. Lea
    Posted July 10, 2013 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    Aaaaamazing! beautiful picture too 😀

  38. Meesh
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

    LOVED this! My family loved it and my book club loved it. Making it again tonight. Simple, healthy and best of all – delicious!!!

  39. Posted August 17, 2013 at 1:17 PM | Permalink

    This salad has been a HUGE hit the several times I’ve made it. Definitely company-worthy for those who like to entertain. I hit the garlic and romano pretty hard and let it sit overnight then serve room temperature. FANTASTIC!

  40. Kelsey
    Posted October 31, 2013 at 3:41 AM | Permalink

    I made this for dinner last night. Asparagus was SO expensive that I used spinach instead. And yellow cherry tomatoes were 2/$1.50! The color looked beautiful. I had intended for this to be a side dish but once my husband tasted it he decided that was all he wanted. Next time I make it I’m going to add some grilled chicken on top. YUM. This was so delicious.

  41. Farrah Nazemi
    Posted November 17, 2013 at 4:54 PM | Permalink

    This looks amazing.

  42. Tom
    Posted January 26, 2014 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    I think you will also like this salad… Enjoy!

  43. Stefanie
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM | Permalink

    This is a very good dish. I’m making it again tonight, and I’m going to add baby shrimp to it. Yum!

  44. Posted March 5, 2014 at 7:40 PM | Permalink

    Great recipe! I made it last week and ate it every single day for lunch; couldn’t get enough! Thanks for sharing!

  45. Jen
    Posted April 4, 2014 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

    Does anyone know the calories of this dish, say for a 2/3 cup portion? Or as a whole?

  46. Shelley Lutherborrow
    Posted June 28, 2014 at 3:02 AM | Permalink

    I am in the uk and do you meant an actual pint measurement in tomatoes? As in measure them all in a pint glass??
    Can’t wait to make this today!

  47. Posted June 30, 2014 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    I mean an actual pint of cherry tomatoes — the little clamshell they come in. Thanks!

  48. Kristi
    Posted July 11, 2014 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

    I’m going to make this for a huge family party this weekend! How many servings does this recipe make with the above recipe?

  49. joyce
    Posted July 23, 2014 at 1:40 PM | Permalink

    a perfect clean out the fridge/freezer salad! subbed roasted green beans for the asparagus as they are in season. had corn cut from a cooked ear in freezer, added it along with some diced red onion and a diced avocado just because they needed to be used. increased dressing by 50%, perfection!!!!

  50. Carole HB
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

    I am making this for a luncheon with 8 women. Do I need to double the recipe? Just wondering how many this serves? Thanks. It looks fantastic!

  51. Posted August 24, 2015 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

    Hi Carole, Sorry I’m just getting back to you! It depends if you are serving it as a main or a side. If a side, you don’t necessarily need to double it. If it’s more of a main, double it.

  52. Posted October 6, 2015 at 12:10 AM | Permalink

    私と 今日はに行ってきました。私は貝殻を見つけて、私の4歳の娘にそれを与えたと言った”あなたはあなたの耳にこれを置けばあなたが海を聞くことができます。”彼女の耳にシェルをして叫んだ|彼女は置か置く。あり内側ヤドカリだった、それは彼女の耳に挟ま。彼女が戻って行きたがっていることはありません!大爆笑私は、これは知っているオフトピックが、私は誰かを教えていた!

  53. Posted October 7, 2015 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

    素晴らしいサイト! これに類似したこのようなブログ稼働か|大量 取るは、Aを必要とする動作しますか? されていたた私はの知識コンピュータ·プログラミング しかししかし 事実上全くなし|私がした私は持っていない 近い将来にすぐに私自身のブログを開始することを望んで。 とにかく、共有してください新しいブログのオーナー|またはのための技術のためのヒント|どんな あなたが持っている場合あなたが持っている必要があります。 私は理解これがオフになっている件名しかし 私は尋ねる持っていたがために。 ありがとうございます!

64 Trackbacks

  1. By Sides | Kelly family eats on April 6, 2011 at 2:46 PM

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