Recipe & Video: Lemon Asparagus Orzo Pasta Salad

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Lemon Asparagus Orzo Pasta Salad is the perfect picnic side dish that will make your guests come back for seconds. The bright, fresh colors of the lemon and in-season asparagus make this pasta salad just as appealing to one’s eyes and tastebuds. It is the perfect side dish to bring to a potluck or backyard barbecue because it can be kept at room temperature. The orzo soaks up the lemon dressing, so the longer it sits the better it tastes! It also packs up great for lunch at the office or eating straight from the fridge if you're working at home.

Lightened-Up Summer Sides

Lemon Asparagus Orzo Pasta Salad is also a great way to balance out some of the “heavier” foods at summer barbecues, with the light and acidic dressing and ingredients. You will not feel like you’re missing out on the “guilty” ingredients because– despite being relatively refreshing and light– this recipe packs in some serious flavor. Yes, orzo is pasta despite its rice taste and texture. The great thing about orzo is that you get the texture and satisfaction of pasta in bite-sized pieces, which are perfect for portion control.

Pasta Salad Swaps and Add-In Inspiration

  • Have a different pasta you prefer? Use bowtie, penne, or mostaccioli noodles.
  • Not a fan of asparagus? Feel free to swap out the asparagus for any other vegetable in season.
  • Grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, or tofu cubes transforms the dish from “side” to “main course.”
  • Tzatziki or hummus also make a simple dressing if you’d prefer not making your own.
  • Add extra vegetables like bell peppers or diced onions to bring more color and nutrition to the dish.

Lemon Asparagus Orzo Pasta Salad

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

½ cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups dry orzo pasta
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup green onion, diced
¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
Lemon slices for serving

Directions:

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Set aside. Bring water to a boil. Add orzo and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add asparagus the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain, but do not rinse. Add warm orzo and asparagus to a large mixing bowl. Add dressing and parsley. Mix well. Top with green onion, feta cheese, and lemon slices. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 194 calories; 11 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat: 6 mg cholesterol; 110 mg sodium; 21 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 5 grams protein

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Categories: EatWell