Chicago has gone from winter to mid-summer, with pretty much no in-between. The last week has been hot and humid, and I'm dreading seeing my electricity bill after running my air conditioning constantly.
It's the kind of weather where you don't want to eat anything heavy. Nothing sounds good, even though you're hungry, and so you end up eating a mish-mash of things cobbled together from your fridge, like hummus, popcorn, and a mochi ice cream ball. That's the kind of weather this pasta dish is for.
It's bright in every sense of the word: fresh and acidic from the lemon, spotted with vivid green asparagus, and with a lovely golden-yellow color from the tumeric. The dish can be a light side to bring to a cookout, or upgraded to a main course with the addition of some extra vegetables or protein. I used mozzarella, but I think it would also be delicious with a salty, crumbly cheese like feta, or with a handful of shaved parmesan on top. The next time I make it, I'll probably also toss in some thyme or maybe even dill. (Just chop it roughly and mix it into the dressing.) You do you.
Orzo With Lemon, Asparagus, and Mozzarella
Adapted from here.
- Zest from 1 lemon
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lb asparagus
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 1½ cup dry orzo pasta
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella
Set two pots on the stove to boil: one with water for the asparagus, and one with vegetable broth for the orzo. Meanwhile, cut the asparagus into two-inch pieces. Blanch it, and then drain it and set aside.* Add the tumeric, salt, and orzo to the vegetable broth, and cook according to the package instructions. Drain.
While your asparagus and orzo are cooking, whisk together the ingredients for your dressing.
In a large bowl, combine the orzo, asparagus, and mozzarella. Top with the dressing and mix well.
*Next time, I'd roast the asparagus rather than blanching it, but that's just a personal preference.