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Lemon Orzo with Parsley

Orzo is delicious in soups but also makes a good side dish for serving in place of potatoes or rice. The lemon juice and zest add a fresh, bright taste to the orzo, making it perfect to serve with seafood, especially pan-seared shrimp or broiled salmon fillets. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo 
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt 
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter 
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice 
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest 
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley  

Directions:

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the orzo and salt, cover, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the water is absorbed and the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and parsley and stir to blend. Spoon into a warmed serving dish and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Variations:

Lemon Orzo with Peas and Mint  Omit the parsley. Stir in 1 cup thawed, frozen English peas during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Sprinkle with 1 Tbs. minced fresh mint.

Lemon Orzo with Asparagus  Stir about 1/4 lb. trimmed fresh asparagus, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup), into the orzo during the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).