As the winter is starting to melt away we make recipes that scream spring like this Quick and easy lemon orzo with parmesan and peas.
There’s truly nothing better than fresh from the garden produce. I didn’t understand this as a child and I don’t know that many really have experienced true farm to table even today. Mom and Dad would harvest the garden with all of us kids at the end of summer, but for me it was the excitement of fresh corn, homemade raspberry jam, and making boats to float in our mud room sink made out of hollowed out cucumbers, while Mom and Dad were anxious to cut open a juicy tomato, sprinkle it with a little salt and savor every bite.
I’m not kidding. I did not get that. I still don’t eat a tomato like an apple. Do you?
I have gained such an appreciation for food that you’ve labored over and it’s just fact, fresh picked tastes better.
Unfortunately it’s not time for fresh peas but when they are ready we will be shelling them for this quick and easy lemon orzo with parmesan and peas. We often eat is as a main dish but it’s wonderful and light so it makes a great healthy side dish as well.
What is orzo pasta?
I love this question. I can say, “WHAT?! What do you mean what is orzo?! It’s fantastic and so easy to make!! Haven’t you made our Copycat Zupas Tomato Soup with Orzo Pasta?!”
Orzo pasta is a flat, rice shaped pasta that is great in soup, salads or served just as pasta. In fact, it can be cooked like rice or pasta and it’s nutrition is similar to rice, but it cooks up in about half the time. It looks a little like slivered almonds.
How to Cook Orzo Pasta
Like I mentioned above, you can cook orzo like pasta, boiling it in liquid, which works well if you’re serving it in soup because you can just throw it in the last 10-15 minutes and let it cook right in the soup.
You can also cook it like rice. To cook orzo in a pan with chicken broth, or water if you need to, just toast the orzo in the bottom of a pan with a little oil until it begins to turn a little nutty. Add a little garlic, salt, or whatever seasoning you wish to you use, chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and place a lid on top. Cook until the pasta has absorbed the liquid and the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. In this recipe we add a little thyme to the liquid to add flavor, however the cooking rule for acid is to add it last, so the zest and lemon juice will go in at the very end along with the cheese and peas. That way everything is fresh and bright.
If you are serving orzo in a salad, make sure to rinse the pasta before cooking which will wash away the starch and keep the pasta from sticking.
How Much Orzo Pasta Per Person
We hate measuring pasta. It’s so tricky to know how much spaghetti to grab. I want to buy this little storage container just so I don’t over plan anymore. Or even this one would work. It’s way less money, but I do like that the first option is so convenient and stores it all so neatly. I seriously always make way too much pasta. Orzo pasta is a different story. You can measure out orzo and should plan on about 1/4 cup (or 2 ounces) dry pasta per person. Orzo will more than double in size when cooked so don’t worry, there will be enough.
You know, you could always throw in a little chicken with this too… shoot why didn’t I think of that?
- 1½ Cups Dry Orzo Pasta
- 1 Tablespoon Olive oil
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 3½ Cups Chicken Broth
- 1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
- 1 Lemon, zested
- Juice of Half a lemon
- 1½ Cups Peas
- ⅓ Cup Grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- Fresh Cracked Pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally until toasted, about 30-60 seconds. Add garlic and stir it in followed by broth and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover the skillet with a lid and turn down to a simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the pasta has absorbed the water and is tender.
- Remove the lid and add the lemon zest, juice, and peas and stir until the peas are bright and cooked. Add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.