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Taste-test Tuesday: Lemon orzo makes delicious side dish

Orzo, a small (rice-size) pasta, cooks quickly and makes a perfect side dish when you're not in the mood for a potato but want to add a starch to your meal. Sunday night my husband made a lemon and basil orzo dish that was tasty and light. We served the dish warm for dinner. The next day I enjoyed a lunch of cold orzo and leftover chicken. It was lovey both warm and cold.

Jeff's Lemon Orzo with Basil

1 shallot, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups orzo

4 cups chicken broth

Zest and juice from one lemon

1 tablespoon basil, chopped

Saute shallot in olive oil over medium heat until shallot is slightly tender. Add garlic and continue cooking until both are fragrant and shallot is translucent. Remove from heat and set aside. In a sauce pan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Add orzo. Boil for about 8 minutes for al dente, longer if you like your pasta a bit softer. Drain. Add shallot and garlic to orzo and stir. Add lemon zest and juice. Stir. Add basil. Salt and pepper, as (and if) desired. Serve.

Note: You can easily make this vegetarian friendly by boiling in water instead of chicken broth.

Orzo is versatile. Add your favorite herbs and vegetables. One of my favorite combos is orzo with corn and asparagus. Instead of fresh lemon, add equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar and a drizzle of honey.

If your leftover orzo is clumping together, add olive oil to loosen.

This morning I discovered this Rosemary Lemon Orzo Pilaf from It calls for toasting the orzo in butter before boiling the pasta. I've never tried that before but I'm eager to test that method.