The great lunch challenge has been a success so far (with one minor misstep), and we’re learning what we like as we go. We’ve found that our favorite lunches, the ones that even at the end of the week we’re still excited to eat, have been orzo salads with citrus based dressing. This is great for many reasons, one of which being that it’s really easy to fill them with a lot of vegetables, and no meat. Now, we seriously love meat, BUT we don’t need to eat as much as we do, so making tasty and filling lunches without them gets us at least 5 more meals a week each that are meatless. Not too shabby.
This salad is perfect, full of different textures and flavors. I grilled the asparagus on a grill pan for some nice subtle smokiness, but sauteeing it in a skillet would be fine.
I really meant to take a picture of this, but I was too hungry.
Spring Green Orzo
- 1 pound orzo
- 1 good sized bunch asparagus spears
- 8 oz fresh spinach
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 6 Tbsp lemon juice
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook orzo to al dente in well salted water. Drain, drizzle liberally with olive oil, and spread out on a sheet pan to cool (I typically try to stir mine around every 5-10 minutes or so, otherwise it gets a little clumpy).
While the orzo is cooling, pour the frozen peas into a bowl of warm water, and set aside to thaw.
Trim the tought ends off of your asparagus. Heat your grill pan ( a cast iron skillet would work too) and then cook your aspargus in batches. You want it in a single layer so you can get some nice scorch marks. Cook to your texture preference, rotating spears often. I think I did about 5 minutes a batch, so it still had a little crunch. Remove from pan and cut into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.
Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. You could use a flavored oil here (I had some lemon olive oil), but it’s really not necessary. Saute your spinach until wilted. Remove from pan with tongs or a slotted spoon to let the water drain out. Set aside.
Place all of the ingredients for the dressing in a food processor and blitz thoroughly. Taste, and add enough salt that it becomes a little saltier than you would normally have it. This is the only seasoning for the pasta and vegetables, so the salt is key.
Combine the cooled pasta and vegetables in a big bowl and pour about 2/3 of the dressing on. Mix thoroughly, and then taste. Add more dressing if desired.