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Lynda Balslev: Add a little spring to your dinner plate

This pea and orzo salad is a delicious side dish or a light main course. Either way, it's guaranteed to bring a breath of fresh air to your kitchen table.
Photo by Lynda Balslev

Spring is right around the corner, and while the weather might not look like it’s received the memo in some areas, this recipe is a bit of spring inspiration that will surely lighten up your dinner plate no matter where you sit. It’s a fresh and lovely pasta dish, bright with citrus and brimming with sweet and snappy peas, fresh herbs and baby arugula.

The pasta in this recipe is orzo, which resembles rice, but is in fact made from semolina flour. It’s toothsome and satisfying to eat, and the little morsels bind together this garden-fresh pasta salad. In this recipe the orzo is cooked and drained, and while still warm, tossed with the peas and aromatics to release their flavor. Fresh herbs and arugula are then added to lightly wilt and release their aroma. This is a delicious side dish or a light main course. Either way, it’s guaranteed to bring a breath of fresh air to your kitchen table.

Pea and Orzo Salad

Active Time: 15 minutes



Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: Serves 3 to 4



12 ounces orzo pasta

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup defrosted frozen peas

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 handful baby arugula, about 1 cup packed

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

1/4 cup fresh dill sprigs

2 tablespoons chopped chives

Grated Parmesan or crumbled feta cheese for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, following package instructions. Drain the orzo and transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the oil and lemon juice and then add the peas, garlic, lemon zest, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Stir to combine and gently warm the peas. Add the arugula, mint, dill and chives and stir to gently wilt the arugula. If the pasta is too dry, add 1 more tablespoon oil and taste for seasoning. Serve garnished with the grated Parmesan or feta and freshly ground black pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area.


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