Lemon Orzo with Asparagus is the perfect healthy side dish to add to your Easter menu or weeknight dinner plan! This one pan recipe calls for simple ingredients and comes together in just 30 minutes. Serve alongside fish, chicken, or chickpeas for extra protein.
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What is orzo pasta?
Orzo is a small, rice shaped pasta made from durum wheat. It originated from Italy. Fun fact: orzo actually means “barley” in Italian due to its resemblance to the grain.
Is orzo healthy?
Orzo can definitely be a healthy part of a balanced diet! It’s perfect to add to everything from grain bowls to salads to soups. Since orzo tends to be a bit higher in carbohydrates and calories, keep portion size in mind when enjoying orzo. Generally speaking, a serving size for orzo is about 2 ounces dry (or about 1/4 cup dry).
Whenever possible, look for whole wheat orzo to maximize the nutrient and fiber content. Enriched products are also a good option as they have important nutrients (such as B vitamins) added back in. Overall, orzo is high in protein, iron, potassium, and B vitamins.
How do you make lemon orzo with asparagus?
- First, prep your ingredients. This recipe cooks up pretty quickly so it’s important to have everything ready to go. The main bulk of prep work is cutting the asparagus. See an easy, time-saving asparagus cutting trick below.
- Next, saute your asparagus. You want to have some parts that get golden brown to provide major flavor.
- Then, you’ll cook the orzo pasta. I’m all about using less dishes so we’re going to use the same pan to cook the orzo. Depending on what brand you use, the orzo should cook to al dente in about 10 minutes.
- Finally, add everything back into the pan. Stirring in the cooked asparagus and spinach gives this dish a lovely pop of green and boosts the health benefits.
Is there an easier way to cut asparagus?
Asparagus is in season from the months of February to June, making it perfect to enjoy in stir fries, grilled for salads, or thrown in pasta dishes. Unfortunately, it can be a bit of a hassle to trim.
I’m going to let you in on an easy asparagus trick for removing those tough ends:
- Start by bending a single asparagus spear until the woody end snaps off.
- Then, take that piece and line it up next to your large bundle of asparagus. Keep the rubber band wrapped around the bundle.
- Using the snapped spear as a guide, use a large knife to trim all of your asparagus spears on the same spot where the first piece broke off!
Customize this recipe your way
Like most of my other recipes, you can customize this lemon orzo dish and make it your own.
- Don’t like asparagus? Try broccoli or peas instead.
- Following a dairy-free or vegan diet? Swap the parmesan cheese for a dairy-free alternative.
- Want this recipe to be gluten-free? Use a gluten-free orzo variety.
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What should I serve with this dish?
This lemon orzo is the perfect side dish to add to your Easter menu or weeknight dinner plan. It would be ideal to serve alongside lemon chicken, salmon patties, or grilled shrimp skewers.
You can also make it into a main course by adding over extra protein like shrimp, chicken or chickpeas.
Check out these other healthy vegetable side dishes:
- 2 tablespoons oil, divided
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and chopped into 2 inch pieces (about 2 cups)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 cup orzo pasta, uncooked
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Juice and zest of 1 small lemon (about 2 tablespoon lemon juice)
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add asparagus and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook asparagus until slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add orzo and toast until golden, about 1 minute. Pour over vegetable broth and simmer for about 10 minutes until al dente, stirring occasionally. (If the pan becomes dry with no liquid left towards the end of cooking, add a small amount of water or broth as needed.)
- Once cooked, add asparagus back over the orzo along with spinach and thyme. Mix together and cook for another 2 minutes, until spinach is wilted.
- Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, and parmesan cheese. Enjoy warm with more Parmesan cheese over top.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 310Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 450mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 11g
This is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. Nutrition may vary depending on ingredients used. For more nutrition information, seek a professional registered dietitian's advice.