This is definitely one of my go-to summer dishes – it’s a perfect blend of warm weather flavors: summer vegetables, white wine, lemon, light pasta. I love risottos, but they can be a little heavy for summer. This is a similar style dish, but it’s made with orzo pasta instead, and it’s super adaptable: you can use whatever veggies you like best, and you can make it more pasta heavy if you prefer. I will add fresh herbs if I have them on hand, but it’s fine without. It can be vegetarian, or you can add chopped chicken breast. Usually I’ll just cook two chicken breasts with some salt and pepper, maybe herbs & lemon zest, in the same pan I will use for the pasta – that way I will get those yummy flavors in the dish when I cook the orzo. Then, I’ll chop it up and throw it in near the end of the cook time.
This time around, I used bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, and asparagus. I almost always use carrots and zucchini and mix and match from there till I get about 6 cups of chopped veggies. For a more pasta-y dish, use about 4 cups of veggies.
It’s cooked sort of risotto-style, but much lower maintenance. You cook the orzo a little bit with some olive oil, till it gets nice and toasty, then pour in some white wine and cook till that’s absorbed. Then you add in the onion, garlic, and veggies that will take longer to cook (like broccoli, peppers, carrots). I’ve found that if I throw in the zucchini now, it will be a mushy mess by the time everything else is finished.
You can also throw in some cooked, diced chicken. Yum – the pasta is nice and firm, the veggies are cooked through but still should have a nice bite to them. The last thing is to stir in some salt & pepper to taste, lemon juice and fresh grated parmesan.
Lemon Orzo Primavera
Adapted from this recipe.
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup Uncooked Orzo Pasta
1/4 cup White Wine (optional)
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole Onion, Diced
1 cup Carrots, Diced (about 2-3 whole)
1.5 cups Zucchini, Diced (about 1 whole)
1 cup Asparagus, cut into thirds
2 cups Bell Peppers, Diced (about 2 whole)
1-3/4 cups Chicken Broth
1 whole Lemon (zest Of The Whole Lemon, Juice Of Half Of The Lemon, Divided Use)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (like Thyme, Basil, Rosemary)
2 whole Chicken Breasts, Cooked & Diced
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Pepper
- Heat oil in a large saute or frying pan over medium heat.
- Add orzo and cook approximately 2 minutes until golden.
- Add white wine if using and cook till absorbed. I usually use Sauvignon Blanc, but any nice white will do.
- Add garlic, onion, and carrots, broccoli, bell peppers (any veggies that will take longer to cook) and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook about 2 minutes.
- Next, add zucchini and asparagus (any of the quicker cooking veggies).
- Cook about 1-2 minutes.
- Add chicken broth, lemon zest, and herbs, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and let simmer till broth is absorbed and the orzo is cooked (about 10 minutes).
- Near end of cook time, add diced, cooked chicken and heat through
- Once it’s all cooked, add salt & pepper to taste, stir in parmesan cheese, and squeeze juice of half the lemon over top (more to taste), and serve.
*You could make this vegetarian by using vegetable broth and no chicken.
*For veggies, use whatever you like – zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, bell peppers, asparagus, and broccoli are all great. I try to aim for about 5-6 cups of chopped veggies total. Just make sure they’re all chopped to about the same size, and add them to the pan in order of cook time so that everything cooks to a similar consistency and nothing is overcooked.