Spring Orzo Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Artichokes

This orzo pasta salad is loaded full of spring asparagus and artichokes. A bit of white wine vinegar and lemon juice make this the perfect salad for an early season picnic or a a springy Easter dinner.

Easter is less than two weeks away. It seems like it’s been coming forever, though, as it is so late this year. I’m not complaining, though. Too often there is still snow on the ground when Easter rolls around here in Minnesota, and a snow-covered yard does not make for good Easter egg hunts for the kids.

In preparation for a warm Easter this year, I made a bright and crisp pasta salad to go along with Easter dinner, a Virtual Easter Dinner, that is. I’m joining up with a group of fabulous women to bring you a full Easter Dinner menu, just as we did for Thanksgiving.

Virtual Easter Dinner Potluck

I have a love affair with using orzo pasta for pasta salads. I love how tiny and slippery it is, and the dressing coats well. This one starts with thin and crisp asparagus, shallots and garlic.

We’ll also need the juice and zest from a lemon, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes.

Start by dicing the asparagus into 1-2″ sections. When choosing asparagus, choose the thinnest spears you can find. They are most tender and the least woody. Blanch the spears in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. This is just long enough to cook them so they aren’t completely raw but still retain their snap. While the spears are blanching, sauté the minced shallots and garlic lightly.

Mix up a simple dressing with white wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper and olive oil.

Add all the salad fixings to the bowl: orzo pasta, quartered artichoke hearts, julienned sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus, shallots, garlic and dressing. Mix it all together and let it cool and combine in the refrigerator.

I personally couldn’t help myself. I ate this for lunch, even though I was supposed to be saving it for dinner. It’s the perfect light side dish, and the bright flavor profile pairs well with the richer dishes at Easter like Aimee’s rosemary potato strudel.

 

1 bunch asparagus, about 3 cups diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces orzo pasta, cooked to al dente and cooled
15-ounce can artichoke hearts
1-1/2 cups sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, julienned
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil 

Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Turn off the burner, add in asparagus pieces and blanch for 2-3 minutes. While the asparagus is in the water, heat one tablespoon olive oil in a small sauté pan. Add in shallots and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, just until tender. Drain the asparagus and rinse with cool water.

In a large bowl add cooked orzo pasta, asparagus pieces and sautéed shallots and garlic. Drain artichoke hearts and quarter them, adding them to the bowl. Add in sun-dried tomatoes with oil and lemon zest. Stir to combine.

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 emulsified, stir the dressing into the salad. Move to the refrigerator for at least 5 hours for flavors to combine. Serve cold.

Makes 12-15 servings.
Copyright © Food for My Family.

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Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, Rouxbe and ManPans.

Comments

  1. Mmm, looks divine — will definitely be trying this one!

  2. this looks FANTASTIC!

  3. Ooh, this looks like a fun take on pasta salad. Very springy. I think it would lend itself well to a picnic :)

  4. Your salad looks wonderful! And the photos are amazing, as always!
    Thanks for sharing!
    ~Liz

  5. I’m not waiting until Easter to make this…it looks fantastic!

  6. I don’t think I’ve ever had orzo, but it sounds delicious, especially with asparagus and artichokes.

  7. I love the jars! What a great way to pack food to go or for a picnic!

  8. The flavors sound just lovely…and very spring-y!

  9. so flavourful,..

  10. What a healthy and delicious salad. Awesome pictures!

  11. Love the jars for display. That’s a really nice touch. I also love orzo for pasta salads, and use it quite often. I think it’s the perfect size. This recipe might grace my kitchen very soon too.

  12. That is a great looking recipe! Definite unique presentation in the jar.

  13. This looks so good, and perfect for warm weather!

  14. I love orzo salads. This is perfect for spring!

  15. Omg! Looks so yummy! I have got to try this! Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Oooooooo, I want!! The orzo was staring back at me as I strolled thru the grocery store this week. Now I know what I’m going to do with it. I love the salad packed in the jars – way too much fun to pack for a picnic!!

    • Blake grilled up some chicken while Hatti & I made this salad today. Everyone liked it – even Tessa. And I had “stolen” a couple big spoons of orzo to mix with butter and parmesan for her, thinking she wouldn’t be too keen on it. No need! A great spring & summer recipe!

  17. Love the in-jar idea. That’s so cute!

  18. Oooh! Some of my very favorite veggies all in one dish. YUM. Can’t wait to try this.

  19. This looks amazing! I have to add it to my lunch list next week… I’ve been trying to go meatless during the week, and this looks like a lovely meatless lunch!

  20. Love the colors in this. Bound to be a flavor bomb. Bookmarked it!

  21. Gorgeous delicious lunch, for sure!

  22. Gorgeous!! Love LOVE LOVE that photo….it’s just perfect!!

    It’s been really warm here this week, I actually ate lunch outside today. This pasta would have been a lot better than the salad I ate.

  23. So beautiful! I love the orzo salad in the jar!

  24. What a gorgeous salad! Beautiful photos too. I wish I had this for dinner tonight!

  25. Perfect timing! I have been thinking about Spring Salads and was going to start looking for some new recipes. Thanks for this one. Our family loves orzo!

    • I made this tonight for lunch tomorrow. Oh my goodness this taste wonderful. The aspargus is so crisp and the dressing has such wonderful flavor. I thought about adding grilled chicken to this too. Thanks again!

  26. The simple, refreshing flavors of spring veggies combined into one wonderful recipe.

  27. What a great warm weather salad, I love the mixture of vegetables here. Looking forward to seeing your virtual Easter menu!

  28. i LOVE that this is served in a jar!! having one of those Homer Simpson ‘doh!’ moments!!

  29. Shaina this pasta salad is gorgeous!! Love how you present it in the jars. We love sun-dried tomatoes & artichokes over here – perfect for the lunch box :)

  30. I keep coming back to look and drool over your photos (and I never use the word drool). I need to just make this already and stuff my face.

  31. Your recipe looks so fresh and delicious. Love the photos!

  32. This look like an incredible orzo! Completely up my alley!
    Gorgeous site…don’t know how I have missed it all this time :)

  33. I’m so happy someone pinned your photo of the salad in beautiful jars over on pinterest – so happy to have found your site! I’m on a salad kick lately, and this has my name written all over it. Thanks!

  34. This is one of those salads that can carry you from spring through summer with slight tweaks to the veg component. So versatile. And the photos? Gorgeous!

  35. AMAZING. I will be trying this out soon.
    oh my mouth is just watering thinking of it!

  36. This is a beautiful salad! And you have a beautiful blog with amazing photographs! I have only recently found this site, but I am very happy I did. And now I am honored to pass on to you some food blogger awards that I’ve received last week http://cookingrookie.blogspot.com/2011/04/passing-on-food-blog-awards.html

    Thanks for this inspirational blog!

  37. Thank you for posting this! I made it, with only a few slight changes (bacon), last weekend and loooooved it!

  38. I made this for a family gathering. It was so delicious that there weren’t any leftovers to bring home! Thanks for the delectable recipe!

  39. I’m a beginner: how is orzo cooked? in water? two-to-one ratio? for how long? is it different if whole wheat orzo is used? Many thanks.

  40. We would love if you submitted this orzo to the side dish week of the Get Grillin’ event Cookin’ Canuck and I am hosting now :)

  41. This is great, I love your pics! I linked to this on my blog, would it be okay to use one of your pictures as a photo-link, if I give credit where it’s due?

  42. Quite possibly the most joy you could have with out cutting out shoes

  43. Lakeesha says:

    This was so good. I didn’t measure anything just kinda of eye balled but I made this for a beautiful brunch I hosted today and needed a beautiful salad and it was a hit. I used the whole 16 oz of orzo and added a bunch of basil, extra sun dried tomato and next time would do toasted pine nuts.

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