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
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.