can be vegetarian,  comfort food,  Greek + Mediterranean,  main course,  pasta + noodles

Lemon Zest + Spring Pea Parmesan Orzo

I am welcoming summer with mouth wide open!  

Yes, I know it it only May, but in Augusta our summer starts in April. But then switches back to winter. And then we will have two outstanding weeks of spring. But now we are in summer again. Sooo…….last night I made this delightfully fresh and lively Lemon Zest + Spring Pea Parmesan Orzo. This recipe is so easy you’ll have plenty of time to do those warm weather things you love to do, like sleep in the sun or splash in the pool.

Lemon Zest + Spring Pea Parmesan Orzo is sunshine on a plate.

This dish is so much deliciousness. The lemon is bright + zesty; the orzo is creamy + toothsome;  the broth provides just enough umami.

I have a mild insane obsession with lemon zest. It could conceivably be my very favorite seasoning. It is a game changer. I can’t get enough! And then I discovered zesting on a microplane–it was like the sky opened and a choir of voices from the heavens above showered down upon me. No, I am not being overly dramatic. I am just being me.

There a many options for this recipe, like subbing vegetable broth for chicken broth, if that’s your preference. Or switching out peas for asparagus, or even adding them both. And maybe even mushrooms! Maybe you want a stronger cheese than Parmesan?  Opt for Reggiano. Want a vegetarian cheese? Look for something rennet-free. Lemon Zest + Spring Pea Parmesan Orzo can be served warm, room temp or cold. You could even add chicken to please the poultry lovers in your life.

One thing, however, that is NON-NEGOTIABLE is the rate at which you add the broth to the orzo. You must do this SLOWLY.  Mark my word: if you add it too quickly, you will end up with spring pea parmesan + orzo soup (which is fine, if you are trying to make spring pea parmesan + orzo soup). Adding the broth slowly assures that most of it will be absorbed. In the end you may have a small puddle, but that will keep your pasta moist and tender and delectable.

Although orzo is a pasta, for this recipe you will cook it as you would rice. Toast it first by heating a little oil in a pan, then adding the orzo. Toast until it turns light brown. Add your seasonings and broth (gradually!) and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat, allowing the orzo to simmer in the broth, about 10 minutes. Then add zest, lemon juice, peas and cheese.

Do yourself a favor and make this. It will transform you.

This Lemon Zest + Spring Pea Parmesan Orzo pairs wells with a buttery +citrusy Chardonnay or a bright Pinot Gris. Or… you could serve it with the most obvious win–effervescent bubbles!

Bon appetit!


If you make this Lemon Zest + Spring Pea Parmesan Orzo, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below and tag #nakedepicurean on Instagram!

Lemon Zest + Spring Pea Parmesan Orzo (for 3-4)

  • 1 ½ cups orzo pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 ½ cups sweet spring peas
  • ⅓+ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • freshly ground S&P, to taste
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and orzo. Cook, stirring occasionally until toasted, about 30-60 seconds.
  2. Add garlic and stir it in followed by thyme.
  3. Add the broth, a small amount at a time. Bring to a boil, cover the skillet with a lid and turn down to a simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the orzo has absorbed most of the water and is tender.
  4. Remove the lid and add the lemon zest, juice, and peas and stir until the peas are bright and cooked.
  5. Add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

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