Sometimes it’s just nice to take a night off of meat. I am a carnivore, but I do appreciate a good dish with no meat, and springtime always seems to be the perfect time to create a meal using mostly grains and vegetables. The spring season brings so many new varieties of vegetables, and asparagus just happen to be coming into season. It’s hard to pass up those magnificent green stalks, especially when you can turn them into something special for dinner.
Orzo is a pasta that’s rice-shaped and comes in several varieties, including whole grain. I prefer to use whole-wheat orzo because it has a little more fiber than traditional orzo without any difference in taste. What makes orzo a great weeknight meal is that is cooks up in less than 12 minutes, and if you add a vegetable like asparagus, it marries beautifully together all at the same time. The creaminess in this dish comes from some parmesan cheese and a pat of butter added just before serving, which turns an already divine tasting meal into a spectacular one.
I like to serve it straight from the skillet because it’s rustic and why wash another serving dish? You can dust the tops of each bowl with additional parmesan cheese, or fresh herbs, if you happen to have them. It also reheats for lunches perfectly in the microwave.
1/2 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup whole-wheat orzo, or regular orzo
1 bunch asparagus, cut into thirds
2 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/3 cup parmesan cheese + more for dusting
1 tablespoon butter
olive oil for cooking
salt & pepper
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add orzo and stir. Cook for 2 minutes, to allow orzo to toast in pan slightly. Add asparagus and broth, stir.
- Place lid on top of pan for 2 minutes. Remove and let orzo cook uncovered until reduced for 8-10 additional minutes, stir occasionally.
- Add 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, parmesan and butter. Stir until creamy.
- Serve in pan family-style with additional parmesan cheese. Enjoy!