Simple Vegan Spring Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad
April 14, 2017

Simple Vegan Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad | The Full Helping

I don’t tend to observe Easter with quite the same concentration of festive spirit that I bring to the winter holidays, but I do welcome its approach each year, if only as an opportunity to cook some celebratory springtime food. This simple vegan spring lemon orzo pasta salad has it all: bright, lemony flavor, a bounty of tender spring vegetables, and plenty of herbs.

When I was growing up, my father celebrated Easter as an Anglican, on the Gregorian calendar, while my mother observed Greek Easter, which follows the Julian calendar. The two holidays were often weeks apart, so Easter came twice in my home. My father’s Easter involved the traditional Easter fare: ham, potato salad, hot cross buns, frittatas and other brunch foods. My mother’s was marked by tsoureki bread, avgolemono soup, and what felt like an interminable wait until midnight before we could eat.

It’s Greek Easter that has stayed with me. This year it happens to fall on the same Sunday as regular Easter, so I’m sharing a recipe that’s equally suitable for both iterations of the holiday—or simply as a seasonal, crowd-pleasing dish for sharing with friends. It’s pasta salad, which means that it’s an easy crowd-pleaser, but it’s also packed with Mediterranean ingredients and flavors—artichokes, dill, lemon, and asparagus—so it still feels like a nod to my Greek roots.

The dish can be served either warm, in which case it feels more like a regular pasta dish, or cool, in which case it’s more of a salad (the proportion of vegetables to pasta is pretty high). If you serve it cool, you can pile it over a bed of fresh baby greens. It’s so easy to make, and it will keep nicely in the fridge overnight if you happen to need a last minute dish for preparing in advance and taking with you to a gathering on Sunday.

Simple Vegan Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad | The Full Helping

Simple Vegan Spring Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb asparagus ends trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup green peas fresh or frozen and thawed
  • 1 6 or 8-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 12 ounces about 1 3/4 cups orzo pasta*
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil (adjust as needed)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 1 small clove garlic grated (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt plus extra as needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus extra as needed
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • Optional: 2-4 tablespoons as desired vegan parmesan (I like the Go Veggie brand) or hempesan

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salt water to boil. Add the orzo. Cook for about 8 minutes, or until the orzo is al dente and not quite ready. Add the asparagus pieces; cook for another 2 minutes. Add the peas and cook for 1 more minute. Drain the pasta and vegetables.
  • While the pasta water is coming to a boil, whisk together 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, shallots, garlic (if using), salt, and pepper.
  • When the pasta and vegetables are ready, transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing and toss everything well to combine. Finally, fold in the chopped parsley and dill, along with the parmesan, if you like. Taste the salad and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add up to 1 extra tablespoon olive oil as needed. Serve.

Notes

*Gluten free orzo can be used in place of regular orzo.
The pasta will keep overnight in an airtight container in the fridge. If you plan to store it before sharing, prepare as directed but leave out the fresh parsley. Right before serving, fold the parsley in.

Simple Vegan Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad | The Full Helping

I’m really partial to the orzo in this recipe, but it would work nicely with any small pasta shape, including macaroni. You can also use pearl barley or Israeli couscous for a more toothsome salad (if you do that, you can steam the vegetables before tossing everything together).

One of my readers recently emailed to ask if I have a special tab with Easter recipes on the site; I don’t, at least not right now, though the question made me realize that I should probably add some specific Holiday search fields to my recipe page! For now, some of my favorite Easter recipes (or recipes that I think would be nice to serve on Easter) include:

Vegan avgolemono
Minted pea soup with cashew cream
Cream of celeriac and fennel soup
Tahini mint kale salad
Purple asparagus and quinoa salad with pea shoots
Quinoa citrus and smoked tofu salad
Chickpea pesto pasta salad
Roasted cauliflower lemon pasta
Lemon pepper tempeh and herbed rice bowls
Stuffed cabbage rolls with rice, lentils, and currants
Whole roasted lemon tahini cauliflower
Strawberry rhubarb crumble bars
Raspberry tart

Whether you’re observing a holiday or not, I wish you a restful and happy weekend ahead, and I’ll be back for some weekend reading.

xo

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    19 Comments
  1. I love roasted asparagus, but I’m not sure how it would taste in this recipe. Do you think it would taste okay to roast the asparagus?

  2. This is one of my favorite vegan recipes!!! I don’t use dill, because some of my family can’t even look at it without feeling queasy, and I think it only needs 3 Tablespoons EVOO, other than that, I follow the recipe. Drain the artichokes, drain and rinse the chick peas. I eat it cold or hot.I cook the asparagus separately, so I can get the perfect crunch and blanch it so it stays brighter green. terrific with halved cherry tomatoes. Thank you for the recipe!

  3. 4 stars
    This is so good! I ate it warm and used cannellini beans b/c I didn’t have any chickpeas on hand. The flavor is great and the amount of dressing is perfect! Came together very quickly.

  4. Do you have the nutritional values on this recipe? I am diabetic and need to know the carbs, etc. I would love to make this as a side dish or throw some fish or chicken with it (I know that defeats the whole vegan experience) but … It would be great if you added the nutritional information on your recipes.

  5. I really like your writing (and the visual style of your page). The photography you include is also wonderful (never thought anyone could make artichokes look so good), and I feel so strongly about these compliments that this is the first time I’m ever posting them like this (and I’ve seen my share of vegan food blogs)! I like your somewhat unpredictable train of thought and enjoyed that quirky/informative anecdote. What’s best is how you kept it fresh & brief because most people fail there (and I probably would as well) but the readers usually really just want to get to the damn recipe already instead of hearing about the author’s toddler! Your recipes look fantastic and of course I LOVE that they are vegan. Can’t wait to try a few. KEEP IT UP!

  6. This salad looks lovely! It’s starting to warm up here in the UK and you can’t beat a nice salad like this on hot days. Enjoy your week too Gena!

  7. I’m the same way about Christmas/winter vs Easter, I just love the holiday season! On the other hand, I’m so happy it’s Springtime right now because I’m so excited about this salad!

  8. I will def be making this for next year’s Greek Easter (if not sooner!), it sounds so good! I just bought everything for stuffed grape leaves (vegan) so that’s all I can handle, lol. While it’s a simple recipe, they are SO time consuming!