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Spring Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad

Updated on July 19, 2013

Springtime Pasta Salad with fresh asparagus and artichokes:

I needed a good salad recipe that used fresh asparagus and would be easy to take to an outdoor event. Of course I went to Pinterest and found Spring Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad ! After re-pinning this recipe to my own Salads board (so I could find it easily) I set about making sure I had all of the ingredients to make this yummy sounding salad.

I was delighted to find that I only needed sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and 2 shallots! I hurried off to Earth Fare (this healthful grocery store is closer to my home than Whole Foods) so I could get started making this salad recipe. By the way, I chose this Spring Vegetable Salad because of the olive oil dressing; there is less chance of spoilage and that makes it a perfect picnic recipe. The photo to the left shows a single serving of the pasta salad resting in small romaine leaves. Cute presentation, don't you think? This recipe would also be a perfect side dish at a barbecue, too.

Images of the Spring Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad recipe belong to me, Mickie_G.

Serve the Orzo Salad on a lettuce leaf

Serve the Orzo Salad on a lettuce leaf
Serve the Orzo Salad on a lettuce leaf

What is orzo pasta?

Orzo is an Italian pasta that looks similar to grains of rice. I learned that "orzo" actually means "barley" in Italian. In fact, I have seen it suggested that you could substitute orzo pasta for rice in recipes.

I found that orzo kept its shape and did not get "gummy" or soft. I will use it in other pasta salads in the future. I do not like gummy pasta in salads that have been refrigerated for more than a few days. My recipe for Spring Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad lasted for 5 days. When there are only two of you living at home, you tend to have leftovers.

Barilla Orzo, 16 oz
Barilla Orzo, 16 oz

This is the brand I used to make this spring vegetable pasta salad. I store the orzo box in a zippered baggie if I do not use it all. You can find organic orzo products, too.

 
orzo pasta salad with asparagus and artichokes
orzo pasta salad with asparagus and artichokes

I modified the original recipe for Spring Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad found at Spring Orzo Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Artichokes at Food For my Family Blog. I did not want as much orzo nor did I want to make 15 servings, so I changed the portions of some of the ingredients.

Cook Time

Prep Time: 30 minutes to assemble

Total Time: Chill 5 hours.

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced fresh asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 diced green onions
  • 1 minced clove garlic
  • 6 oz. uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 14 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Cook orzo using directions on the package. Using the least amount of time shown so the pasta will be firm. For example, if package says boil 8-10 minutes, choose 8 minutes. Cool.
  2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add asparagus pieces, cover pot, and "blanch" for 3 minutes. Drain asparagus and rinse with cold water.
  3. While asparagus is blanching, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet. Add chopped green onion and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes or just until tender.
  4. In a large bowl, add cool cooked orzo pasta, asparagus pieces, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest to taste, onions and garlic. Drain and quarter (if not quartered already) artichoke hearts. Toss gently to combine.
  5. Dressing: In a small bowl or container, whisk together lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. While continuously whisking, slowly pour olive oil into the vinegar. Once it is emulsified (mixture looks "creamy") stir the dressing into the salad. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours to allow the flavors to combine. Serve cold.
Cast your vote for Printable Recipe for Spring Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad

You should own a Stainless Steel Mesh Strainer Set -- - these strainers/colanders should be in every kitchen!

I use my colander set almost every day. I like having this nesting set because storage can be difficult in any size kitchen. I even have one more strainer that is smaller and it sits nicely inside my set of 3. The mesh is, in my opinion, the best for straining all kinds of food from canned tuna to spaghetti noodles or ravioli. I have been known to use my strainers to steam vegetables.

Happy Sales HSQL036/A, Stainless Mesh Colander - 3 Piece Set
Happy Sales HSQL036/A, Stainless Mesh Colander - 3 Piece Set

One can never have too many strainers. I actually own a set of three and one other strainer for a backup! The ones pictured here are not exactly like mine because I purchased my over 10 years ago and the basic design has improved over the years!

 

What does "blanch" mean?

Simply, to blanch means to par boil or slightly cook.

To blanch vegetables one adds them to boiling water and cooks them for 3 minutes. Strain the hot water off the vegetables and immediately immerse in ice water to stop the "cooking" process.

Blanch diced fresh asparagus in boiling water.

Blanch diced fresh asparagus in boiling water.
Blanch diced fresh asparagus in boiling water.

Rinse asparagus in cold water to complete the blanching.

Rinse asparagus in cold water to complete the blanching.
Rinse asparagus in cold water to complete the blanching.

The artichokes and sun dried tomatoes I used in the orzo pasta salad.

The artichokes and sun dried tomatoes I used in the orzo pasta salad.
The artichokes and sun dried tomatoes I used in the orzo pasta salad.

Combine pasta with the vegetables.

Combine pasta with the vegetables.
Combine pasta with the vegetables.

Pasta Salad Dressing--emulsified!

Pasta Salad Dressing--emulsified!
Pasta Salad Dressing--emulsified!

How to emulsify a salad dressing: - plus a Mustard Vinegrette recipe!

Want to see how to emulsify oil and vinegar? The chef shares his recipe for a mustard based recipe for a salad. The method he shows to emulsify is the same one I used to make my dressing for the pasta salad.

Finished pasta vegetable salad!

Finished pasta vegetable salad!
Finished pasta vegetable salad!

How to Juice and Zest a Lemon for the salad:

The first video shares how to choose a good lemon and get the juice out. The second shares ways to zest citrus and the tools one can use. Good informational "how to" videos from a professional chef. Note: You might have to watch a short ad.

Need a Lemon juicer?

I have a juicer similar to the one in the video above. To get more juice out of the lemon (or any citrus fruit) I roll it on the counter a few times. I also think that if a fruit is at room temp, it will also produce more juice.

I love to grill outside and roast asparagus in the oven. Steaming is also a method I use to cook this springtime vegetable. The salad recipe I have shared with you has become on of my favorites and holds its taste and appearance for several days in the fridge. I hope you will try it soon.

If you have a special recipe using this green spear, please share it (you many type in a link) with me.

I found two orzo salad recipes that I want to try when my cherry tomatoes ripen. The Cherry Tomato Orzo Salad Recipe would be perfect for a BBQ in the summertime. The following link will take you to a Food Network recipe that has a touch of mint and basil: Gina's Orzo Salad Recipe.

If you like more vegetables than orzo, then you might want to try this recipe from 101 Cookbooks: Orzo Super Salad Recipe. It is an intriguing one that includes broccoli and avocado. This recipe kind of proves that you can "play" with your food (the orzo) and have a delicious result.

In the meantime, thank you for visiting my page and leaving a comment in this guestbook.

Share your Ideas for more orzo salad recipes-- - I welcome all suggestions for using other ingredients along with orzo.

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    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 4 years ago from Johanesburg

      Nice yummy recipe , thanks for sharing

    • erickaregy profile image

      erickaregy 4 years ago

      Wooww.. I just known about this pasta.. the first time I saw this pasta when my Boss got some pasta samples from Turkey, hohoho..as we don't consume pasta as our main menu so we thought this was rice :D .. hmm nice idea to try.. thank you!

    • JRsFavoriteFinds profile image

      JRsFavoriteFinds 4 years ago

      Sounds awesome! I will definitely try this.

    • Mickie Gee profile image
      Author

      Mickie Goad 4 years ago

      @mrdata: I need to make this orzo pasta salad for Memorial Day weekend!

    • mrdata profile image

      mrdata 4 years ago

      Delicious recipe! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Echo Phoenix 4 years ago

      I love this recipe, looks & sounds scrumptious so will have to give it a try this summer for sure. Thank you for sharing:)