Recipe Duo: Lemon Orzo with Tomato & Asparagus

Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad 1I love a good pasta salad, and this one is is a favorite of mine. There are a ton of variations of this particular salad floating around the food blogs, but the basic ingredients are orzo, grape tomatoes, asparagus, and lemon.  I add arugula for extra volume and a bitter bite.  But even though it is simple, this salad is special.

Not only does this pasta salad make an easy and tasty dish to bring to a potluck or barbecue, it also pairs great with a nice piece of chicken and Pinot Grigio for an impressive and elegant dinner.  All you have to do is slice your tomatoes, blanche your asparagus, cook your orzo and toss those together with the arugula, some lemon zest and juice, grated garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper.  If you don’t care about it being vegan, you can even grate some Parmesan cheese into the mix, though it doesn’t really need it. But, the best part about this salad is the leftovers.

The leftovers from this pasta salad demand to become a frittata. A frittata is an Italian egg dish that is similar to an omelet, but instead of folding the egg over a filling, the filling is mixed right into the raw eggs.  They are easy to cook and transform leftover pasta into a savory breakfast feast.

Frittata StepsI always keep a little of this pasta salad at home if I am taking this to a potluck. Two to three cups will do.  I use this to make a lemon orzo frittata that is out of this world! Simply beat three eggs, mix in the pasta salad, add some salt, pepper, and Parmesan.  Then, cook on the stove until set and bake in the oven until cooked through.  So delicious.

Try Lemon Orzo Pasta two ways:

Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad becomes Lemon Orzo Frittata

LEMON ORZO PASTA SALAD
(Makes approximately 12 cups)Ingredients

1 bunch asparagus (I prefer thinner stalks)
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 medium lemons, juice and zest
1 pint grape tomatoes, washed
1 box orzo pasta (12-16 oz.)
¼ cup olive oil
1 package prewashed arugula (8 oz.)
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmesan to taste (optional)

Instructions

  1. Fill a 6-quart pot with water about three inches from the top. Cover and bring to a boil.
  2. In the meantime, cut the woody ends off the asparagus and prepare an ice bath. If there is extra time, prep your other components: zest the lemons with a microplane, grate the garlic with the microplane, and cut the tomatoes in half.
  3. When the water boils, plunge the asparagus spears into the water and blanche until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Once tender, grab the spears out with tongs and plunge into your prepared ice bath. Once cool, cut into inch-long pieces.
  4. Bring the pot of water back to a boil and add a heavy pinch of salt. Add in the orzo and boil for 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Add the grated garlic and lemon zest to the hot pasta and mix. Then, add in the cut asparagus and sliced tomatoes. Juice one of the lemons directly over the top of the salad and add a generous pinch of salt. Stir to combine.
  6. Drizzle in the olive oil and a gengerous grind of pepper. Stir to combine and taste, adding more lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
  7. Stir in the arugula and parmesan cheese (if using). Cover and allow flavors to combine for at least 30 minutes before serving cold or at room temperature.
LEMON ORZO FRITTATA
(3-6 servings)Ingredients
3 eggs
2-3 cups leftover lemon orzo pasta salad
½ grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup choppped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Beat the eggs in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Fold in the pasta, parmesan, parsley, and pinch or so salt (not too much, especially if you added extra parmesan).
  4. Heat olive oil in an 8 to 10-inch pan over medium.
  5. Pour in the egg mixture and spread evenly.
  6. Cook until the eggs have set, about 5 minutes. They are set when you can lift up the edge very gently and it just barely holds together.
  7. Move to the heated oven and bake until the top is firm, about 10-15 minutes depending on the size of pan you used and how much pasta you use.
  8. Allow to cool slightly and turn over onto a plate or cutting board. Slice into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

For breakfast, you can serve this with buttered toast. For light lunch or dinner, you can serve this with a side salad.

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