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Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

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Ingredients

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

235
Calories
8 g
Total Fat
0 mg
Cholesterol
3 mg
Sodium
35 g
Total Carbohydrate
6 g
Protein

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

Features:
  • Vegan Option
  • Vegetarian

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

  • 1 Hour
  • Serves 6
  • Easy

Ingredients

Directions

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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

1
Done

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

2
Done

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.

3
Done

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.

4
Done

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.

5
Done

This can be served warm, room temperature or cold.

Adrienne

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!

58 Reader Questions and Reviews Hide Comments

I changed this up a bit, cooking Orzo in chicken broth with rinds left from dressing, dill and S&P. WOW, wonderful. Wished I would have let chill a bit more. Great side with salmon.

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!

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.

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!!!!

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

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!

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.

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!

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

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!!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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

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.

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

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!

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

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!

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

Your recipe looks amazing!

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!

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.

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.

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:)

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)

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