Everyone loves quick and easy meals, and Lemon Orzo with asparagus and chickpeas comes together in only 30 minutes. You won't believe how flavorful it is from only 5 basic ingredients plus salt and pepper!
It's so convenient to cook everything in the same pot or skillet. I'm all for anything that makes both cooking and cleaning up easier.
What is orzo?
Orzo is a short pasta that looks like rice. Also known as risoni, or big rice, orzo means "barley" in Italian. But rather than containing barley, it's typically made from wheat.
And while I've always been a fan of orzo pasta, I hadn't eaten in years since I have a gluten sensitivity. But recently I discovered a gluten-free orzo that's a blend of corn and rice.
You only need 5 basic ingredients, plus salt and pepper, to make this recipe. Besides the pasta discussed above, Lemon Orzo contains asparagus, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), olive oil, and lemon.
If you love asparagus, be sure to check out these other vegan asparagus recipes. But if you don't, or it's not available where you shop, you can use a different green vegetable instead. Some options I like are small broccoli florets, fresh green beans, or defrosted frozen peas.
A lot of the flavor in this dish comes from lemon since both the zest and juice are used. If you can, try to buy organic citrus since the peels on conventional lemons may contain residual pesticides. Or at the very least, give them a good scrub, perhaps with a fruit and vegetable wash.
How to make Lemon Orzo
While waiting for the water the boil to cook the orzo, remove the tough ends of the asparagus. Gently bend the spears, and the woody ends will naturally snap off. Then slice the asparagus into bite-size pieces.
Once the water has come to a boil, cook the orzo according to the package directions. When the pasta needs two or three minutes more to cook, add the sliced asparagus to the pot. Allow the orzo and asparagus to cook together for a few minutes until the pasta is al dente and the vegetables are bright green and tender.
Be careful not to overcook them. No one wants mushy pasta and asparagus. When they are just right, drain the orzo and asparagus and return them to the pot without rinsing.
Then stir in the chickpeas, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Give it a taste and add salt and pepper as needed. And if you like it more lemony, feel free to add extra lemon juice and zest.
I recommend serving this dish with some extra lemon wedges on the side. After all, you can never really have too much lemon, and the garnish makes this simple dish look extra fancy.
Be sure to zest your lemon before you squeeze the juice out of it. It's very difficult to do it in the opposite order.
This dish reheats well. Store the leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Add some fresh lemon juice to the leftovers before serving to refresh the flavor.
More orzo recipes
If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend trying these other Mediterranean-inspired recipes staring orzo pasta:
- Mediterranean Orzo Salad (tofu feta, chickpeas, tomatoes, olives, and a tangy dressing)
- Creamy Lemon Orzo Soup (pasta, chickpeas, and vegetables in a silky broth)
- Spinach Orzo Salad (tender baby spinach, kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes)
And for even more delicious vegan recipes, join the Insider List and receive a FREE recipe ebook! You can also follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook Group.
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Lemon Orzo (5 Ingredient One-Pot Meal)
- 12 ounces orzo, (I use gluten-free)
- 1 pound asparagus
- 1 can chickpeas, (15.5 ounces or 1 ½ cups cooked) rinsed and drained
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon, zest and juice (See Notes)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, prep the asparagus by breaking off the tough ends and slice the spears into bite-size pieces.
- Cooking the orzo according to the package directions.
- When the orzo is almost cooked but needs a few more minutes, add the asparagus to the pot. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes more until the asparagus is tender and bright green, and the pasta is cooked al dente.
- Drain the orzo and asparagus in a colander, but do not rinse. Return the orzo and asparagus to the pot.
- Add the chickpeas, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the orzo and asparagus and fold to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve with lemon wedges on the side in case you want to add more lemon juice as you're eating.
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This recipe was originally published 1/17/2019. It was updated for better reader experience.