Tender Spring vegetables make good partners when it comes to this easy Spring Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Peas. Orzo is one of our favorite pasta shapes to cook for its incredible versatility. In this orzo salad recipe, we have tender Asparagus, lots of lemon juice, lemon zest, a little garlic, fresh dill, and fresh or frozen peas and Feta cheese for the perfect compliment. Sometimes, Pecorino Romano cheese tops my salad, but you can opt to use vegan cheese to make it a completely vegan salad.
Table of contents
What is Orzo?
Orzo is a shortcut pasta that typically is used in soups, however lately we see so many uses for this rice-shaped pasta. Anything from risotto, cold and warm salads, and assorted side dishes. I feel like every cooking website has a variety of Orzo recipes because of its quick-cooking properties. Orzo is made of whole wheat, semolina, or white flour. It’s often thought that Orzo is gluten-free, it is not, but gluten-free varieties are available like DeLallo brand gluten-free orzo.
Traditionally, Orzo or Risoni is part of a wide range of small pasta that Italians call pastina. This pasta originates in Italy, however, this pasta shape is widely used in many Mediterranean countries outside of Italy.
Why is Orzo so popular?
In addition, Orzo comes in various forms, such as gluten-free, cassava, whole wheat, and tri-color. It’s a fast-cooking pasta that is perfect for weeknight dinners and with its culinary flexibility, makes it a home cook’s favorite go-to pasta.
This salad is great served both cold or warm and works perfectly with a Simple Roasted Chicken, your favorite fish, or my Two Ingredient Tri Tip. Alternatively, for a fully vegetarian meal, my Butter Lettuce Green Salad is perfect with this Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Peas.
General guideline on how to cook Orzo
Generally, this rice-shaped pasta cooks in about 7 minutes. Depending on the brand, make sure to cook it al dente. For cold pasta dishes, rinse until cool so the pasta stops cooking and use as directed. If using Orzo for a hot dish, I would not recommend rinsing the pasta so that starchy goodness helps your sauce to cling.
How to prepare the Orzo Salad
- 1 1/2 cups of Orzo pasta
- 1/2 bunch of Asparagus. Washed, dried and rough ends rremoved. Chopped into 2 inch pieces.
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons of fresh dill leaves, chopped + more for garnish.
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons of shallot, finely chopped.
- 1/2 teaspoon honey or agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon of dried Thyme
- 1/2 tsp of Paprika, sweet
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (I use Morton’s) + a large pinch for pasta cooking water
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper.
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 2-3 Radishes, thinly sliced for salad + garnish
- 1/4-1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
Add 4 quarts of water to a large pot. Add a large pinch of kosher salt to the water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add 1 1/2 cups of Orzo pasta. Cook for 5 minutes then add fresh asparagus and peas to the pasta water. Cook for 2 more minutes. Check pasta, it should be firm to the bite but tender. Asparagus is crisp cooked and peas are cooked but firm. NOTE: If the pasta you are using varies in cooking time, (gluten-free, whole wheat, etc.,) add the vegetables 2 minutes before the end of the pasta cooking time.
Drain pasta and vegetables together. Rinse under cold water until cool. Drain well and place in a medium-sized bowl.
Let’s prep vegetables. Chop 2 tablespoons of fresh dill. I like to use the leaves only and not the larger stems. Set the dill aside. Next thinly slice the radishes and set aside. Next, we will make the salad dressing.
If using a block of Feta cheese, chop Feta into small cubes. If crumbled, use as is.
For the salad dressing, use a small jar or bowl and add lemon juice, lemon zest White Balsamic vinegar, garlic, shallot, honey, Dijon mustard, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. Whisk the olive oil into the mixture a little bit at a time until it emulsifies. Alternatively, you can place all the ingredients in a jar, place a tight-fitting lid onto the jar, secure, and shake until emulsified.
How to assemble the orzo salad
Now let’s assemble the salad. Add half the salad dressing to the bowl with cooked Orzo, asparagus, peas, radish, fresh dill, feta cheese and toss gently until fully coated. Taste for salt, pepper, and dressing and adjust as needed. (NOTE: I typically use all of the salad dressing for this recipe. I suggest starting with half so you can customize to your liking.) Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
Before serving, toss, and garnish with extra sliced radishes and fresh dill leaves.
Enjoy this delicious, lemony Orzo Pasta salad with Asparagus and Peas. Did you make a variation? I want to hear about it, please comment below!
Frequently asked questions about Orzo & substitutions
8 servings cooked as a main, and 12-16 as a side depending on the volume of ingredients.
The healthiest type of Orzo is the whole wheat version. Compared to regular, it has more fiber and slightly less carbohydrates. Calories and fat are the same.
No. Authentic risotto is made from Arborio or Carnaroli Rice. Orzo is a type of pasta made from whole wheat, semolina or white flour. You can use Orzo to make a risotto textured dish, as it’s extremely versatile.
Yes, a great substitute is green beans. Follow the same directions.
You can use Ditalini or small shell pasta for this recipe. For a nice twist, you can also substitute Farro for this recipe. Just cook to package directions and blanch the asparagus and peas separately.
It’s a perfect salad for meal prep. I recommend adding the salad dressing when you are ready to eat the salad. Top with Feta and grilled chicken for a full meal. I have another Orzo salad with Salmon equally great for meal prep.
Yes, either white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar work well for this recipe.
Orzo Salad with Asparagus and PeasJuly 21, 2023
- 1 bowl medium
- 1 pot 5 qt
- 1 microblade for zesting lemon
- 1 1/2 cups Orzo dried
- 1/2 bunch Asparagus, fresh Washed, dried and rough ends rremoved. Chop into 2 inch pieces.
- 1 cup peas fresh or frozen
- 2 tablespoons dill fresh, leaves only, chopped + more for garnish
- 3 whole radish thinly sliced for garnish
- 1/4-1/2 cup Feta cheese crumbled or cubed (optional)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice fresh squeezed
- 1 teaspoon zest lemon
- 1 tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar or Apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons shallot finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon honey or agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon thyme dried
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika sweet
- 1 teaspoon salt Kosher (Morton's)+ a large pinch for pasta cooking water
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper ground
- 1/8 cup olive oil extra virgin
Preparing the pasta and vegetables
- Add 4 quarts of water to a large pot. Add a large pinch of kosher salt to the water and bring to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add the 1 1/2 cups of Orzo pasta. Cook for 5 minutes then add fresh asparagus and peas to the same pot with pasta. Cook for 2 more minutes.
- Check pasta, it should be firm to the bite but tender. Asparagus is crisp cooked and peas are cooked but firm.
- NOTE: If the pasta you are using varies in cooking time, (gluten free, whole wheat etc.,) add the vegetables 2 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
- Drain pasta and vegetables together. Rinse under cold water until cool. Drain well and place in a medium sized bowl.
- Chop 2 tablesppons of fresh dill. Set that aside. (I like to use the leaves only and not the larger stems.)
- Slice radishes for salad and garnish. Set aside.
- For the salad dressing, use a small jar or bowl and add lemon juice, lemon zest White Balsamic vinegar, garlic, shallot, honey, Dijon mustard, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper.
- Whisk the olive oil into the dressing mixture a little bit at a time until it emulsifies.
- Alternatively, you can place all the ingredients in a jar, place tight fitting lid onto the jar, secure and shake until emulsified.
Assembling the salad
- Add half of the salad dressing to the bowl with cooked Orzo, asparagus, peas, feta and radishes. Toss gently until fully coated. Taste for salt, pepper and dressing and adjust as needed. NOTE: I typically use all of the salad dressing for this recipe. I suggest starting with half so you can customize to your liking.
- Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
- Before serving, toss and garnish with sliced radish and fresh dill leaves.
Nutritional information is calculated online and should be used as a guide.
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