Spring has definitely sprung. The wild flowers are wafting their sweet fragrance in the mornings where I run with the dog so my thoughts turn away from steaming hot soups and comforting stews towards lighter flavours and all things fresh and green.
I bought some fresh peas in their pods from the farmers’ market on Sunday. There is nothing more spring-like than peas, except for maybe asparagus. This recipe has both. In fact it has all my favourite spring flavours in one dish. There’s also fresh mint, dill, lemon, spring onions, spring garlic and feta. Is it singing to you yet?
Orzo, in case you don’t know, is a rice shaped pasta. If you can’t find it (I got mine in Eroski, believe it or not, in the Moroccan section) you could use any small-ish pasta shapes or even cooked rice. The good thing about orzo is that it doesn’t go all flabby and stick together when it is cooked so it is perfect for salads.
You toss all the ingredients and the dressing over the cooked orzo while it is still hot so all the flavours get absorbed and start to mingle. Leave it to cool to room temperature then you can store it in the fridge. The feta and fresh herbs are best stirred through just before serving. This is an ideal lunch that would be easy to take to work or for a weekend picnic.
Primavera Orzo Salad with Fresh Peas, Asparagus, Mint & Feta Recipe
Serves 3, vegetarian.
- 300 g uncooked orzo (or other pasta shapes)
- 2 or 3 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
- 1 baby leek (or more spring onion), finely chopped
- 1 spring garlic/green garlic/ajete, finely chopped
- salt & black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 100 gr shelled fresh peas (or frozen)
- a handful of fresh chopped dill
- 12 fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 100 g Greek feta
- toasted pine nuts (optional)
Cook the orzo in lots of boiling salted water for about 8 minutes until al dente and drain.
Meanwhile, cook the spring onions, baby leek and spring garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat with a pinch of salt some black pepper, the thyme, oregano and chilli flakes until softened. Mix this with the drained cooked pasta in large bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt & black pepper. Leave to cool.
Trim or snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces. Shell the peas. Cook the peas & asparagus in boiling salted water for 3 minutes then drain and add to the orzo, Stir everything together well.
Leave to cool to room temperature. It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge from this point. When ready to serve stir through the crumbled or cubed feta and the chopped herbs. Taste for seasoning, add more salt or lemon juice if required.
Serve topped with some tiny mint leaves, dill fronds and toasted pine nuts, if using. I forgot to put mine on for the photos, duh…
Say hello to spring even if it is raining where you are!
Have a lovely week whatever the weather.