Ingredients

1/2 pound (8 ounces) uncooked orzo
1 bunch (about 1 pound) asparagus, chopped into about 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (5oz) package fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup basil chopped finely
1 batch Lemon Basil Vinaigrette (ingredients detailed below)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese OR 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella cubed

Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

1/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves (about 2oz) – some small stems are okay, too
1 large garlic clove, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil

Directions

1. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook for a few minutes, until al dente! Remove directly into an ice cold water bath until cold. Remove, drain and add to salad or mixing bowl. Bring water back to a boil and cook orzo according to package directions. When cooked to al dente, drain and rinse with cold water until cool.

2. Chop your spinach and basil very well and add to salad bowl along with asparagus. Add in the cooked pasta, combine well. Toss in the lemon basil vinaigrette, the pine nuts and either the shredded Parmesan or cubed fresh mozzarella cheese. Stir to coat everything with the dressing. Taste and readjust if necessary.

Serve immediately. Serves 6-8

Lemon Dressing

1. In a blender, or immersion blender, blend together juice, basil leaves, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour oil in gradually. Taste and re-season as desired. If it’s too tangy for your taste, add a bit more olive oil or salt. You can also add a touch of honey or agave.