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
- Monday ~ Laura from Real Mom Kitchen shares Orange-Glazed Ham
- Wednesday ~ Tara from Unsophisticook shares Cucumber Salad
- Thursday ~ Tiffany from Eat at Home shares Goat Cheese Biscuits
- Friday ~ Aimee from Simple Bites shares Rosemary Potato Strudel
- Saturday ~ Liz from Hoosier Homemade shares an Easter Dessert
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 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.
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