Spring Orzo Salad
Spring officially started on March 20 but in Chicago, it feels like it starts in May. It’s finally warm enough to retire my puffy, sleeping bag coat and transition to a lighter jacket. Sure, some days call for layers under that lighter jacket but I take what I can get in Chicago. I don’t know if you’ve heard but the weather in Chicago is generally trash and even after living here for two decades, I am still not really over it.
Fortunately, spring produce came to grocery stores a little earlier than spring itself and asparagus is at the top of my list. It is available year-around but the best quality is in the spring and until they start to feel dry at the ends and less tender, they are on my shopping list every week. They cook really quickly, they taste fantastic, and I think they look so pretty! This week, I also picked up some ramp and cooked that along with the asparagus and some peas. Ramps are part of the allium family, along with garlic, onions, leeks, spring onions, etc. and therefore, have a taste that’s reminiscent of garlic and onions. It is a lot milder than onions or garlic - it’s much more delicate. It’s also super trendy, not harvested in large quantities, and therefore, a little pricey - if you don’t want to spend the $5 for a bunch, spring onions are a great substitute.
This is a great weeknight recipe or a potluck recipe. It comes together in about 20-30 minutes. I’ve served this with salmon, pork chops, chicken thighs, fried eggs; you’re welcome to serve it just by itself, too!
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side
4 oz dry orzo
1 bunch asparagus, each cut diagonally into 3-4 pieces
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 bunch ramps or spring onions, whites diced and greens roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 anchovy fillets
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the orzo according to package instructions.
Bring another pot of water to boil. Salt and blanch the cut asparagus for 3 minutes. Remove from the water and place them in an ice bath to stop the cooking.
Heat up the olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the anchovies, minced garlic, and ramp/spring onions whites. Cook for 2 mins. Add the frozen green peas and cook for 30 seconds. Then drain the asparagus from the ice bath and add to the pan and heat through, about 1 min. Lastly, add the ramp greens and saute for 30 seconds or until wilted.
Mix in the drained orzo into the vegetable pan. Season with some salt and lots of pepper and mix in the lemon juice. Turn off the heat and before serving, shave some Parmesan on top.