Lemon Basil Orzo Salad

The perfect pasta salad for spring. It is my favorite go to for bridal showers and luncheons! Also, every single one of my family members has asked for this recipe and it is easier to just post it here.

Lemon Basil Orzo Salad

1 box orzo (1 lb)

1 bundle asparagus, bottom woody part cut and thrown away, cut the rest in about ¼ inch pieces (or however you like to eat in it your salad)

1 small bag frozen peas, microwave to cook, then cool in fridge to make room temperature

Snowpeas, handful (or just buy the small prepackaged bag)

Parmesan, shredded- 1 cup

Basil, fresh, chopped- ½ cup

Oregano, fresh, chopped- ¼ cup

1 Lemon- (zest from ½), juice from all

Vegetable oil (or canola, but I usually get vegetable)

White Balsamic

Granulated Garlic- 2 tsp

Salt, pepper to taste

 

  1. Boil water, add orzo when boiling. Make sure the pot is bigger than you would normally make for pasta with extra water. Orzo absorbs more water, if the noodles aren’t done but the water is running low just add more warm water to it. When done cooking (not crunchy, but NOT mushy), drain and rinse with COLD water. Then put orzo in a bowl of ice water immediately! Let sit until completely cooled (This will make sure the orzo won’t get mushy and will actually taste good the next day)
  2. Boil water. Add chopped asparagus. Cook until just a little tender but still crunchy (probably only about 2-4 minutes). Drain, run under cold water. Immediately place in ice bath (see same reason as above)
  3. Remove strings from snowpeas (sometimes the bag ones are already removed). Sautee in a tablespoon of oil (canola, veg, olive- all will work) with salt and pepper. You only need to do with for about 2-3 minutes just to take the crunch off. Place on a plate and put in fridge to cool.
  4. Once all ingredients are at room temperature- drain orzo and asparagus to make sure completely drive. Combine orzo, peas, snowpeas, asparagus, oregano, basil, parmesan in large bowl. Add zest of half a lemon. Add juice from the entire lemon. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Dressing: If you are making the night before, only dress in lightly because the orzo will absorb most of it so you will just add more the next day.
    1. Night before: About ½ cup oil and ¼ cup vinegar. Then the day of, right before you serve it, add another ½ cup oil and ¼ cup vinegar. From there taste to alter. If you like it more vinegary (which is how I usually do) just add a little more vinegar, mix and see what you like. If you like more peppery, or salty add that accordingly too. In general I usually start with very little salt until the end, since the vinegar is so salt-heavy naturally.
    2. Making orzo and serving that day dressing: About 3/4 cup vegetable oil and ½ cup vinegar. Then season to taste as well.

Photo credit: Erin Scott Photography

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