Best. Pasta. Salad. Ever.

orzo

I’m not a big fan of pasta salad.  Too goopy, too gloppy, too tasteless.  But I love orzo.  I know, pasta is pasta, but I love the shape of it, the slickness of it, the mouth-feel of it.  The other day, when I was stocking up on pasta, I bought a box and tonight, I decided I wanted to make an orzo salad.  Once again, I scoured the Web, found a few recipes I liked, made my usual modifications and came up with the following.  I was going to add bacon, but it was just too hot to cook it along with the pasta.  I might add it tomorrow, though.

Lemon Asparagus Orzo Pasta Salad (Please note, the above is not my photo. I didn’t take any.)

1 bunch of asparagus (get one with thicker stems, but not woody)
12 oz. orzo pasta
1 lemon, juiced
4 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp sugar
4-5 basil leaves, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, smashed and chopped
6 or 7 small cocktail tomatoes, quartered, or use grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
5 artichoke hearts, water packed, chopped
Kosher salt
black pepper
1-2 Tbl Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400.  Put a pot of water on to boil.  Trim the asparagus, place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, a little Kosher salt, pepper, and roast for 15 minutes.  When the water boils, add the pasta and cook per directions, about 9 minutes.  In the mean time, juice the lemon in a bowl, add the sugar, the chopped, smashed garlic, and the chopped basil.  Stir to mix and dissolve the sugar.  When the pasta is ready, drain in a strainer, then set the strainer in bowl of cold water.  When the asparagus is done, just turn off the oven while you get everything else ready.  Chop the artichoke hearts and tomatoes.  With a small whisk, stir the lemon-herb mixture, then slowly add the oil until you get an emulsion.  You may not use all 4 tablespoons.  That’s okay.  Drain the pasta from the cold water, dry the bowl, put the orzo in with the artichoke hearts and tomatoes.  Take the asparagus out of the oven, and cut into approximately 2-inch pieces.  Add to the bowl.  Pour over the dressing, mix well.  Add the cheese and mix again.  Devour and put up what’s left, if any.

Seriously, I ate a small bowl, but I could have eaten the whole thing, bacon or no.  I think I will add bacon tomorrow, just because I can.  Yum, yum, YUM! This was really, really good–light, refreshing, surprisingly delicate.  You need to make this.  Like, now.

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