An easy side dish that comes together in minutes, Creamy Orzo and Asparagus is the perfect addition to dinner this spring!
The arrival of spring brings a new crop of vegetables, and asparagus is quickly becoming one of my favorites. My husband loves it, so I try to get plenty into our meals while it’s on sale! This recipe for Creamy Orzo and Asparagus is fabulous because it’s like a quick and easy risotto, one of my favorites.
The beauty of this recipe is it’s simplicity. Five main ingredients (butter, salt and pepper not pictured) are all you need for a delicious, homemade side dish!
- chicken broth
- heavy cream
- Parmesan cheese
How to prepare asparagus
For this recipe, choose the larger stalks of asparagus rather than the early season bunches that are quite small. The thicker stalks hold up better while cooking this way and don’t turn to mush.
To prepare the asparagus, you need to trim off the woody end near the bottom. There are two ways to do this. The fun one is to simply grab the stalk near the bottom half and bend. It will snap and break apart, leaving behind the woody end. The problem is with this method you might sometimes lose some of the edible part of the stem. But it is satisfying. 🙂
The other way to prepare asparagus stems is simply to use a knife to trim off the ends. Take note of where the stalks begin to turn from green to white and simply line them up and slice off the ends. It’s much faster this way, and you won’t lose so much valuable stem.
For this recipe, you’re going to continue to cut the asparagus down into 1-2 inch pieces.
Can I use canned or frozen asparagus for Creamy Orzo and Asparagus?
Absolutely! This recipe is very forgiving and you can easily make substitutions. Canned asparagus won’t take long to cook at all-you’ll just be warming it up, so don’t add it until right before the orzo is done. Using frozen asparagus may add a bit more water to the dish, so just adjust the liquid you add at the end to make sure it’s not too runny. For the best flavor, however, I always recommend fresh asparagus!
What is Orzo?
While this recipe for creamy orzo and asparagus might look like risotto, it’s not. The main difference is this uses orzo, a kind of mini pasta. Risotto uses arborio rice. The two look very similar, but cook time for orzo is quicker because it’s a pasta and not a grain. The texture is also going to be quite different.
Creamy Orzo and Asparagus
- 32 oz. chicken broth plus enough water to fill the pot halfway
- 1 cup orzo
- 1 cup asparagus cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Bring a large sauce pan with chicken broth and another 2-3 cups of water (filled about halfway) to a boil over medium heat.
- While the pot is coming to a boil, prep the asparagus by removing the woody ends of the stalks.
- Add the orzo to the boiling broth/water mixure. After the orzo has been cooking for about 5 minutes, add the asparagus to the same pot.
- Continue cooking (about 3-5 minutes.) Once the orzo and asparagus are cooked and tender, drain and return to the pot.
- Over low heat, quickly add the Parmesan cheese and butter. Stir thoroughly, allowing both the cheese and butter to melt. Slowly add the cream to the mixture, while stirring. Continue to stir and add cream until you reach your desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper
- Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley
Post updated 4/20