Spring Orzo Salad

While weather can be particularly tumultuous this time of the year, we tend to be moving toward some of the nicest weather we see in Wisconsin as April gives way to May. The temperatures are mild with the chill mostly being the sort a sweater can handle and the heat being the sort that finding a bit of shade can fix. And the menus start to green up and feature fresh, bright flavors. So I turn to good standards like fresh baby spinach, lemon, and garlic to help bring a pop of the season to any meal.

This pretty pasta salad calls for some bright, sweet little tomatoes that pack a lot of juicy flavor. If you can't find those, dice some plum tomatoes, but you might want to make a bit more dressing to make up for the missing flavor. I like using tender spinach and garlic (or garlic scapes) from local farmers' markets or our CSA box. Little orzo pasta makes the perfect pairing with the rest of this salad because it doesn't overpower everything else. If you cannot find it, opt for another very small sized pasta and boil it until just tender.

I love pairing this with lemon-garlic seared shrimp, as pictured above. However, it pairs beautifully with all manner of grilled foods and even sandwiches. So make this part of your early forays into al fresco dining and enjoy some of the prettiest weather the year has to offer.

Spring Orzo Salad

  • 1 c. uncooked orzo
  • ½ English cucumber, chopped
  • 1 c. grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 T. chopped red onion
  • 2 c. chopped fresh spinach
  • ⅓ c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 T. lemon juice + zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 T. T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Boil a salted pot of water and cook the orzo until al dente according to package instructions. Once it's done, rinse it with cool water and let it drain thoroughly. Transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, prepare all of the salad ingredients (cucumber through parmesan cheese) and add them to the bowl with the pasta.

Add the dressing ingredients (Lemon juice through garlic) to a jar or small bowl, and whisk/shake until well combined.

Toss the salad with the dressing. Add more lemon juice or olive oil if the salad seems dry.Taste and add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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