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Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

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Adjust Servings:
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 Cloves Minced
2 Tbs. Fresh Parsley Minced
Kosher Salt Season to taste
Fresh Ground Pepper Season to taste
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Season to taste

Nutritional information

8 g
Total Fat
0 mg
3 mg
35 g
Total Carbohydrate
6 g

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

  • Vegan Option
  • Vegetarian

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

  • 1 Hour
  • Serves 6
  • Easy




It’s time to make a lemon orzo salad with asparagus and tomatos.

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.

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

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Kitchen Must Haves

Recipe Steps


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.


Tried and tested recipes I really make for my family and friends. Really. Simple, hearty comfort food made with fresh, local ingredients.

Can Lemon Orzo Salad be prepared before hand?

Oh, darling, you're speaking my language! Lemon Orzo Salad is like that super cool friend who's always ready to party, but can also chill out in the fridge for a bit. In other words, yes, it can totally be made ahead of time! Here's the secret sauce: when you cook the orzo and mix it up with all those delicious, colorful veggies and that zesty lemon dressing, it's like you're sending the flavors on a little playdate. The longer they hang out together in the fridge, the better friends they become. So, when you finally invite them to your dinner table, they're all like, "Hey, we're ready to have a blast!" I recommend making the salad up to a day ahead. Just be sure to give it a good stir before serving, and maybe even a little extra squeeze of lemon to brighten things up. Because, let's be honest, who doesn't love a surprise lemony zing? Wink wink!

How Can I make this recipe vegan?

No problem at all! We can definitely make your Lemon Orzo Salad vegan-friendly. It's like turning your salad into an ultra-inclusive party where everyone's invited, no matter their dietary preferences. Let's get those vegan vibes going! First, calls for any cheese (like Parmigiano Reggiano or feta), you'll want to swap that out for a vegan alternative. There are so many great vegan cheeses on the market these days, and I'm sure you'll find one that you'll love. Just look for something crumbly and tangy to mimic that feta magic. Next, let's check the dressing. If you add any non-vegan ingredients, like honey, simply swap it out for something like agave nectar or maple syrup. These are fabulous plant-based sweeteners that'll add just the right touch of sweetness to your zesty lemon dressing. And there you have it! With just a couple of ingredient swaps, your Lemon Orzo Salad is ready to rock the vegan life. Go ahead, serve it up and watch your vegan pals swoon!

What other pasta can I substitute?

Oh, the pasta-bilities are endless! Substituting orzo is like auditioning for the lead role in a pasta play, and you've got a bunch of eager pasta shapes waiting for their chance to shine. Let's see who gets the part!

One great substitute is Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous. It's a larger, chewier cousin of the regular couscous, and it has a delightful texture that'll play nice with your salad ingredients. Plus, it loves to soak up all that zesty dressing goodness.

If you're in the mood for a more traditional pasta shape, you can try ditalini or small shells. These teeny-tiny pasta stars are not only adorable but also perfect for mingling with veggies and dressing in your salad. They're like the social butterflies of the pasta world!

Another fun option is fregola, a small, toasted pasta from Sardinia. Its nutty flavor and unique texture will add an extra layer of interest to your salad, making it the talk of the town (or at least your dinner table).

So, go ahead and pick your pasta understudy for orzo! No matter which one you choose, I'm sure it'll be a delectable performance. Bon appétit!

What vegetables can I substitute instead of asparagus and tomatoes?

Switching up the veggies in your Lemon Orzo Salad is like giving it a fresh new wardrobe for the season! Let's explore some stylish vegetable options that can sashay into your dish instead of asparagus and tomatoes.

For a pop of green, you might consider tender blanched green beans or fresh, thinly sliced sugar snap peas. Both of these vibrant veggies bring their own unique flavor and texture to the table, making your salad even more exciting.

If you're looking for a splash of color, bell peppers can strut their stuff in your salad. Choose from a medley of red, yellow, or orange peppers for a sweet and crunchy addition. For an extra zesty twist, you can even roast or grill them beforehand.

Maybe you want to invite some purple to the party? Sliced or diced red onion will not only add a lovely hue but also a bit of sharpness that plays well with the lemony dressing. You could also go for thinly sliced radicchio, which brings a touch of bitterness to contrast with the other flavors.

And, if you're craving something a little more Mediterranean, artichoke hearts or marinated olives would make fabulous guests at your Lemon Orzo Salad soiree. They'll add a briny, tangy element that keeps things interesting.

Feel free to mix and match these veggies or add any other favorites to create your own signature salad masterpiece. The key is to keep it fun, fresh, and full of flavor!

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