Asparagus Orzo

27 05 2009


Uncooked orzo pasta

Uncooked orzo pasta

Ah, asparagus!  It’s possibly my favourite vegetable and where I live, it’s season is short.  As a result, I eat it almost every day when it’s available.  This, of course, leads my poor husband to comment at dinnertime:  ‘Oh, we’re having asparagus… again…” Luckily, it’s very versatile and can be used in everything from quiches to stir-fries and lasagna.  This simple orzo recipe makes a great spring side dish that goes particularly well with grilled or roasted chicken.

Orzo is a tiny, rice shaped pasta (see photo, above).  The orzo pieces are slightly larger and flatter than rice and are made from durum wheat.  I’ve had trouble finding it on occasion until I realized that some stores stock it with the rice instead of in the pasta section.  You can substitute another small pasta or rice for the orzo but may have to adjust the butter and seasonings.

Whenever I create pasta recipes, I always debate about how many people it serves because North Americans usually eat larger portions of pasta than Italians.  We also tend to eat pasta as a side dish or main course as opposed to a small starter course as the Italians do.  In this case, I divided the recipe into half-cup servings.  The portion size can be adjusted if the orzo is being served as a starter, side dish or main course.

Helpful Tip: Zest the lemon before cutting it open to juice.  You can always add more lemon to taste – I’ve added just enough to brighten up the orzo without making it too lemony.

Asparagus Orzo

Makes approximately 8 half-cup servings


  • 1 lb. (454 g) asparagus of medium thickness (equals about 3 cups of cut up asparagus)
  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked orzo
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (packed) grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup (packed) grated fresh parmesan cheese + extra for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Trim any woody ends from the asparagus spears and discard.  Cut asparagus into lengths about 1″ long.  Set aside.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Add orzo.  Cook for two minutes and add asparagus pieces.  Continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until the orzo and asparagus are just tender.
  3. Drain orzo and asparagus mixture and return to pot.  Add butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and grated parmesan.  Stir until thoroughly combined and the butter and parmesan have melted.  
  4. Season with salt and pepper.  Grate extra parmesan over each serving if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy! 





One response

28 05 2009
Daniel's Critical Corner

Looks pretty good. I’m inspired to try it !

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