Orzo Salad is a quick side dish recipe that uses quick cooking pasta with creamy goat cheese and roasted asparagus spears.
Orzo Salad is one of my favorite quick pasta salad recipes. Orzo is a short pasta that is shaped like a grain of rice and therefore commonly mistaken for rice.
It’s compact shape and quick cooking capability make it ideal for one-dish meals, casseroles, soups and pasta salads. Al dente in just 4 minutes, it will actually take you longer to preheat the oven for your asparagus than it will to cook the orzo!
Orzo Salad is verstile side dish. Serve it with just about any protein or use it as the base for a meal that uses an earthy sauce, like my Orange Caramel Scallops. Just enough flavor to taste delicious on its own, but not too much to overpower any other dish.
One word of advice when heating goat cheese is to not overheat it! I know that sounds a little odd, but it is true. Most goat cheeses don’t melt in a melty sort of way. You see, cheeses like ricotta and goat cheese are curdled with citric acid (versus rennet for other cheeses like mozzarella) and therefore they will never melt.
If heated too high, goat cheese will take on a grainy consistency that is not nearly as appetizer as the sticky, white cheese we all know and love.
For my Orzo Salad, the goat cheese is pre-crumbled and added at the very last stage to prevent this from happening, just using the residual heat from the pasta and asparagus to heat it.
Tools for making Orzo Salad:
- Rimmed Baking Sheet – Really, every kitchen should have one, but they are especially handy for rolly veggies like asparagus.
- Heavy Bottom Saucepan – A workhorse of your kitchen, make sure you have a good, heavy bottom sauce pan. Don’t skimp on this one!
- Colander – I love colanders, I don’t know why, but they are so pretty!
If you like this side dish recipe, you’ll also love these:
- 1 inch bunch green asparagus , cut into 1pieces
- 1 cup uncooked orzo
- 4 ounces creamy goat cheese , crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil , divided
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim ends of asparagus and lay on a baking sheet. Toss with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, fine sea salt and finely ground black pepper. Bake for 12-14 minutes, turning once until tips are a little crispy and stalks are soft and flexible.
Meanwhile heat a medium saucepan filled with water over high heat and bring to a boil. Salt water if desired. Add 1 cup uncooked orzo and cook per package directions for al dente. Strain.
Transfer cooked orzo to a medium mixing bowl. Toss with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, crumbled goat cheese, lemon juice, fine sea salt and ground pepper.
Serve hot or cold.