This Lemon Asparagus Orzo Recipe is a colorful, delicious side dish that celebrates Spring.
Around this time of year, I get so busy with gardening, Spring cleaning, and getting ready for the summer that I often get lazy about cooking dinner. Have I mentioned that I’m also in the middle of a DIY whole home renovation? I’m not just busy, I’m exhausted!
While I’m perfectly happy to eat a bowl of cereal or a can of peas and consider it a meal, my family expects a bit more. Lately, I’ve been turning to recipes that I can serve as dinner more than once. Whether it’s making a salad that lasts all week or preparing and freezing a huge batch of meatballs that can turn into different meals, I’ve been looking for ways to get dinner on the table quickly without a lot of effort.
So, given all of that, this Lemon Asparagus Orzo has become a favorite of mine for a few reasons. For one thing, the ingredients are fresh and pure. Spring asparagus is one of our favorites and pairing it with garlic, lemon, Parmesan cheese, and orzo pasta creates a bright, flavorful side dish that goes perfectly with chicken or fish.
It’s also very easy to prepare — so easy, in fact, that kids can do the prep work. If they’re older and have the skills to boil and sauté they can even make the entire side dish like my son did. Let me tell you, that makes having teenagers worthwhile, folks!
You can refrigerate or freeze leftovers to serve again later, though you’ll want to add a bit more butter or olive oil and fresh Parmesan shavings on top when you do. Or, after the recipe see my secret for serving it a second time.
Serves: Serves 6
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 16 oz. uncooked orzo pasta
- ¼ cup (1 stick) butter
- ½ lb. fresh asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. freshly grated lemon rind
- 3 tbsp. (or more) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ground black pepper (to taste)
- 2 chive stems for garnish (optional)
- Bring the chicken broth to boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add orzo, stir well, and cook uncovered for 7 minutes. Add the asparagus, stir well, and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- While orzo cooks, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add in minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
- Drain orzo with asparagus and add to the skillet. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon rind, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Turn into serving bowl and garnish with chive stems if desired.
Here’s the secret: turn the leftovers into soup! My family has a thing against leftovers. Or, I should say, they have a thing against leftovers they know about. So sometimes, rather than listening to them grumble when I reheat a dish I’d made earlier in the week, I like to turn leftovers into something new.
With this Lemon Asparagus Orzo, that is so easy to do. Just tip the refrigerated leftovers into a large sauce pot then add 2 more cups chicken broth, a handful of frozen peas, and some freshly ground black pepper. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat and add 2 cup of leftover, chopped chicken or a pound of cooked, peeled shrimp. sSimmer for a few minutes, add more lemon juice if desired, and serve. It is so good, and your family won’t even know they’re eating leftovers!