Lemon orzo recipe perfect for summer

07/10/2014 9:36 AM

07/10/2014 9:37 AM

When life gives you lemons, make The Star’s Lemon Orzo With Roasted Asparagus.

Lemonade is the obvious option, but it always seems to take a few scoops of sugar to get the pucker just right. For a new twist on lemon juice, try this light, bright vinaigrette tossed with pasta.

A fat-free flavor enhancer, lemon juice offers a healthy dose of vitamin C. One lemon provides about half the minimum daily requirement.

The tangy lemon zest contains aromatic oils, which create a perfumey bouquet. Adding zest to recipes typically decreases the amount of salt required in a dish. Zest also contains limonene, a phytochemical that scientists think may ward off cancer.

Lemons and asparagus contain folate, an important B-vitamin that prevents birth defects.

Preparation tips: One medium lemon equals about 3 tablespoons of juice and 2 to 3 teaspoons zest, according to The New Food Lover’s Tiptionary (Morrow) by Sharon Tyler Herbst. Room temperature lemons yield more juice than refrigerated. Fresh-squeezed lemon juice contains more nutrients than frozen concentrates or bottled juices but begins to lose its punch soon after it’s squeezed; 20 percent of the vitamin C is lost after 8 hours at room temperature or 24 hours in the refrigerator.

If you can’t use asparagus the day you buy it, store the stalks upright in a container of water as if it were a flower bouquet.

Cooking tips: To toast pine nuts, bake at 350 degrees 5 to 7 minutes or until just golden. Watch closely so they don’t over brown.

Roasting is a simple way to prepare asparagus for maximum flavor. To roast asparagus, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Snap ends from asparagus and, if desired, remove scales with a vegetable peeler. Spray baking sheet with nonstick vegetable spray. Layer asparagus on baking sheet and spray generously with nonstick vegetable spray. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until asparagus is tender.

If you prefer, roasted green beans would be a great alternative to roasted asparagus in this recipe.

Roasting green beans is very similar to roasting asparagus: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Trim green beans. Spray baking sheet with nonstick vegetable spray. Layer beans on baking sheet and spray generously with nonstick vegetable spray. Bake about 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.

Lemon orzo with roasted asparagus

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup orzo

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of coarsely ground pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

8 roasted asparagus spears

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Slowly add oil to juice mixture, stirring constantly with a small whisk or fork, until well blended. Add to pasta and toss to coat. Cool to room temperature. Cut roasted asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Stir in asparagus, parsley and pine nuts.

Per serving, based on 4: 224 calories (25 percent from fat), 6 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 35 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams protein, 139 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Recipes developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.

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