I love the colors of summer– the flowers, the holidays, and especially the fruit and veggies that are all seasonally ripe. Using as many colors in a meal as I can makes it that much more likely that my kiddos will eat what’s on their plates, but it also makes us more likely to eat a healthier meal. Lemon basil orzo with asparagus and cherry tomatoes is just that dish.
Asparagus and cherry tomatoes make a stunning addition to a basic (but delicious) lemon basil orzo. The orzo itself uses summer-ripe fresh basil and bright lemons to make a tangy, herbaceous dressing that balances out the slight bitterness of the asparagus and the sweetness of the tomatoes perfectly. It’s a super pretty dish that can be served warm, cold, or anywhere in between so it’s a great picnic food or potluck offering. As a bonus, it’s meatless, dairy-free, and peanut-free so it’s safe to take for even my kiddos. If your kiddos aren’t such a fan of tomatoes and asparagus, this one is super easy to pull out lemon basil orzo for them before adding the vegetables in, so it doesn’t make you make an entirely other dish for the picky eaters in your family.
If you were to add in a little lemon essential oil, it would definitely up the lemon flavor without watering it down AND you’d get all the benefits of lemon essential oil! Just make sure you’re only using the best essential oils– Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade— so that you know they’re safe to serve to even the littlest members of your family!
Lemon Basil Orzo with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
1 lb orzo, prepared according to the package
3 lemons, zested and juiced
10 drops lemon essential oil, optional
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 large leaves fresh basil, julienned
1 T olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pint small tomatoes, halved
- Prepare the orzo according to the box.
- While it’s boiling, boil another pot of water and add in the asparagus. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until done the way you prefer, and blanche in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon essential oil, garlic, basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Pour over the orzo and stir.
- Scoop out orzo at this point if you have kiddos who would prefer veggie-less pasta.
- Add in the asparagus and tomatoes, stirring gently to mix.
- Serve hot, cold, or room temperature.