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: 118


  1. 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?

  2. 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!!!!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. Anita Perez
    Posted March 16, 2016 at 11:00 AM | Permalink

    I’ve made this several times. My family loves it!

  6. Posted April 20, 2016 at 5:06 PM | Permalink

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12 Trackbacks

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