Can you believe it’s already April? Easter is one week away, the crocuses are up and spring is well underway. Doesn’t it feel incredible? Here is a quick and easy dinner. Spring Orzo with Asparagus, Lemon and Dill.You can serve this warm as an entrée, or chilled as a side salad. Keep it vegan or add feta. And if you happen to have any preserved lemons hiding out in your pantry or fridge, this is the time to whip them out and put them to good use. They are not required, but a tasty addition. Ready? Let’s get started.
Once again, the foundation of this recipe is fresh, seasonal produce. Asparagus, snap peas, lots of dill, shallot, garlic and lemon.
Set the orzo to cook and simple sauté the fresh ingredients. It doesn’t take long.
If you have preserved lemons, chop some up finely. It will provide a burst of flavor. If not, just increase the lemon juice and salt slightly. Preserved lemons are preserved in salt, so their flavor is both salty and very tart. A little goes a long way. Start conservatively, and add more to taste. I really like this flavor, so I add more. You may prefer less. See what you think.
Once the orzo is done, combine with Asparagus. Add the fresh chopped dill and crumbled feta if you like. Serve warm right away, or chill and serve as a salad.
Spring Orzo with Asparagus, Snap Peas and Dill. So easy, so tasty, so FAST!
I hope you enjoy!
- 6-7 ounces orzo
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot- diced
- 3 garlic cloves- rough chopped
- 1 extra large bunch asparagus, tough ends removed, cut into 1 inch pieces.
- 1 cup snap peas
- ½- ¾ teaspoon salt and pepper ( see notes)
- 2 lemons ( or sub one lemon, with preserved lemon)
- ½ cup fresh dill
- crumbled feta ( optional)
- Set salted water to boil and cook orzo according to directions.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
- Add chopped shallot and garlic, and stir frequently, saute until golden and fragrant.
- Add asparagus and snap peas. Saute 5-7 minutes stirring often, scooping up the shallot from the bottom of the pan. Add salt and pepper. Cook until asparagus it is bright green, and little a little crisp, cooked to al dente. The thinner the asparagus, the faster it will cook. Turn heat off. Add the zest of one lemon.
- Drain pasta and if serving warm, save a little of the hot pasta water. (For Chilled pasta, see notes below. )
- Add the warm orzo pasta to the skillet with the asparagus and just a little pasta water to loosen it up to your liking. Stir. Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and finely chopped preserved lemon if using ( 1-2 tablespoons). Taste for salt and lemon. Add more if necessary or if it tastes bland. Fold in the fresh dill and sprinkle with optional feta ( keeping in mind that feta will add salt too). Serve immediately.
- NOTES- If serving chilled, place the cooked asparagus mixture in a bowl and let it cool. Rinse the cooked orzo with very cold water until cold. Drain, add to bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil, generous squeeze of lemon juice, optional preserved lemon. Mix and adjust salt and lemon, adding more if bland. The pasta will soak up the salt when it sits in the fridge so it will probably need more later. Refrigerate - then taste once more before serving, again adjusting, adding more lemon and salt to taste. Fold in the fresh dill right before serving. Add crumbled feta.