This orzo is a refreshingly light side dish for spring or summer with its burst of lemon flavor, asparagus and ripe cherry tomatoes. It lends itself to any main entrée from beef to shrimp to chicken.
Side dishes can make or break a meal for me. You can serve up the best grilled chicken on the planet, but if the side dish is dry, flavorless or just boring, it can affect the whole meal.
We have several orzo recipes on our site not only because they are simple to make, very economical and comforting. But they make amazing side dishes that compliment just about any entrée.
Orzo, in case you are unfamiliar with it, is a short cut pasta. It is made from flour, but you can find whole grain orzo just as easily. Orzo has virtually no flavor until you add something to it, like pasta sauce or in this case a light, lemony dressing.
Ingredients to make Lemon Orzo:
Orzo – Orzo acts like a pasta and can be boiled and added to soups, etc. but it also acts like rice. In our recipe, we are going to sauté the orzo in butter and this prevents the orzo from sticking together and helps the orzo absorb the chicken broth.
Dressing – a combination of good olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and fresh parsley is all that is needed to bring the orzo some bright.
Veggies – cherry or grape tomatoes add a burst of summer to this side dish. And the asparagus is added as an already cooked ingredient. Weather permitting, grilling adds a nice charred flavor.
How to Make Lemon Orzo with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
Many orzo recipe I see call for cooking the orzo separately in water and then draining it. This is a missed opportunity for flavor. We take a 2 part approach:
- First the orzo is toasted in butter (similar to rice) and then it is cooked in chicken broth. Both of these steps will impart flavor into our tiny little orzo, which has no flavor.
- Combine the ingredients to make the lemon dressing. I like to use a mason jar for this. They combine ingredients like no whisk can.
- While the orzo is still hot, add the lemon dressing and veggies and toss to combine.
Make Ahead and Storage:
- Make ahead – This lemon orzo side dish can be eaten hot, room temperature or even cold. Therefore, it can be made hours ahead of time or even days.
- Storage – Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat it in the microwave if you want it warm or eat it cold. It’s great both ways!
LEMON ORZO WITH ASPARAGUS AND TOMATOES
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Tried this recipe? Please leave a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. And consider following me on Facebook and Pinterest!Print
Lemon Orzo with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
- Total Time: 25-30 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
A delicious pasta side dish that takes advantage of fresh seasonal produce like cherry tomatoes and asparagus with a balanced great lemon flavor.
- 2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- 1 ½ Cups Uncooked Orzo Pasta
- 1 Clove Garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- 16 oz. chicken Broth (I like to use unsalted)
- 1 Bunch Asparagus, cooked and cut into 1” pieces
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon zest
- 3 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
- 4 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp. Freshly chopped parsley
- Sea salt and pepper to taste (check the sodium content on the chicken broth)
- Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
- Add the orzo to the pan, stirring constantly until the orzo begins to turn golden in color (about 1-2 minutes).
- Add the garlic and stir for an additional 30 seconds.
- Slowly add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and continue to simmer on low heat approximately 15-20 min or until orzo has absorbed the liquid. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking
- Meanwhile, mix the oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Pour the dressing over the cooked orzo and stir to combine. Add the chopped asparagus and tomato halves.
- Serve hot, warm or room temperature.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
- Category: side dish
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 288
- Sugar: 5 gr
- Sodium: 66 mg
- Fat: 20 gr
- Saturated Fat: 5.8 gr
- Carbohydrates: 22.9 gr
- Fiber: 2.1 gr
- Protein: 4.8 gr
- Cholesterol: 15 mg
Was a huge hit! Paired it with your grilled chicken recipe. Kids loved it!
this is such an easy side dish to make and everyone loved it. I loved how it can be served at room temp. I made it before grilling my chicken and just let it sit on the table. it was perfect.
This was excellent! I roasted my asparagus. Added some Parmesan cheese to the dish after plating
this was good. would be nice if the recipe was updated with where the garlic goes (It goes in after the butter is melted with the orzo.).
thanks Tiffany. I updated the recipe card.
It’s one of those recipes that you can use whatever you have on hand. I had no asparagus, so I used spinach and used up my end of season grape tomatoes. Delish!
How many servings?
This lemon orzo is so delicious! I️ also found it on Pinterest a while ago but when I️ went back to reference it the link was gone. Glad to have found this recipe again!!
Hi Kelli .. I’m glad you liked the recipe, but what do you mean the link was gone? can you provide the url?
Hi!! I don’t know if you remember me but I was your waitress at Max and Erma’s a few weeks ago. I looked at the sight and started doing a few recipes and they are DELICIOUS! Maybe one day I can go completely un-processed, but I’m taking my slow steps there. Thank you SO much for sharing your blog with me!
Of course I remember you Jessica! As a matter of fact my daughter saw you in the parking lot of Meijer’s the other day and mentioned how much she enjoyed talking with you! So glad you checked out the website and even happier you are living a healthy lifestyle!