If you’ve been following my Instagram feed lately, my Farmer’s Market obsession is apparent. Our Opening Day was this past Wednesday, and I had been looking forward to it like a kid counting down for a holiday. I love the community that gathers at our beautiful market space, our ability to support local farmers, and the dirt I find in between radish leaves, reminding me these vegetables were just picked. There is something about seasonal eating that feels so right and natural – of course we should be eating food that hasn’t traveled far, supports our neighbor and was harvested just now because it was time to harvest, not because we were forcing it.
Though there are definitely ingredients I admit I’ll purchase despite its journey to get to me (hello, avocado), I put effort into creating meals with what I am able to source locally. The abundance of spring and summer delights me. On that note, let’s give you an easy, family-friendly dish you can make with your asparagus. This is adapted from A Big Mouthful. Cheers to the season ahead!
Asparagus-Shallot-Tomato Orzo Salad
16 oz. orzo
2 1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (depending on size)
2 1/2 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 – 2 tsp. lemon zest (I like 1 tsp., but you may want more of the lemon flavor)
juice of one lemon
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper
1 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c. parsley, minced
Start two good-size pots boiling with water. The orzo will go in the larger pot; the asparagus in the smaller pot.
As you prepare and chop your veggies, make sure to break off the tough, woody end of the asparagus before cutting it into 1-inch pieces.
Blanch the asparagus for 2 – 3 minutes, depending on size. When it is tender, drain it and run cold water over it for a minute. Cook the orzo according to package directions. When tender, drain and put in large bowl with a drizzle of olive oil. Toss to coat, so the orzo doesn’t stick together.
Add the asparagus to the orzo, along with the tomatoes. Meanwhile, whisk your minced shallots, minced garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl with a pour spout. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste as you go, so it’s just as you like it.
Pour the dressing mixture into the bowl with the orzo, asparagus, tomatoes and toss well to coat. Add your parmesan and parsley and toss again. If you need a little extra pepper or parmesan, go for it! (And yes, sisters, just like the Southwest Quinoa – I’m adding this to your category. You can do it!)