Orzo Pasta with Grilled Spring Asparagus, Snap Peas, Mint, Feta Cheese & Lemon

I was doing some meal planning yesterday and realized how many fresh veggies I had. I needed to plan my meals thoughtfully the next couple days to get them used up. First, I decided to tackle the large package from Costco, but I wanted to find some new ways to use it other than just cooked as a side dish.
There were several recipes that drew my eye while doing a Google search,  including an unusual Minestrone that had asparagus and artichoke hearts in it. Unfortunately, that one required a trip to the store. So instead I settled on Orzo Pasta with Grilled Spring Asparagus, Snap Peas, Mint, Feta Cheese & Lemon  found on the Food Network website. The picture to the left is theirs. Unbelievably I had everything in the pantry to make it. Honestly I don't always have orzo and fresh mint in particular. Today was my lucky day.

Weirdly, there was nothing mentioned in the instructions on grilling the asparagus.  They list it in the title as grilled and it's in the ingredients list, but they only mention when to it add into the pasta. And the pic (see above) doesn't show grilling marks on stalks.  So I had to figure it out myself as grilling the asparagus was part of what drew me to this dish.

I washed and dried them, then removed the tough lower stems. The stalks were then tossed with a small amount of olive oil and grilled on a medium BBQ until just tender and with a few beautiful char marks. They I cut them into diagonals The rest of the recipe seemed fine, but after making it I decided I wanted to make 2 adjustments - a little less pasta (original recipe was one pound) and a little more feta (original recipe was 3/4 cup).  

The lemon juice and zest give this dish a bright, light citrus-y flavor. Enjoy!  

Note - a Costco package of Asparagus is 2 lbs. I had Glen grill all of it and then set half of it aside for tonight's meal as a side dish. 

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Orzo Pasta with Grilled Spring Asparagus, Snap Peas, Mint, Feta Cheese & Lemon

Recipe by Chef Matt Stowe on The Food Network website

Ingredients - 

3/4 lb.        Orzo pasta or other desired amount
⅓ C            Olive oil
½ C            Onion, finely minced
3                 Clove garlic, finely minced
¾ C            Sugar snap peas, cut in half
⅓ C            Fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 lb.            Asparagus, cut on a bias into 1-inch pieces (Note - Cut AFTER grilling)
2                 Lemons, juiced and zested
1 C             Feta cheese
Salt and pepper

Instructions - 

Remove tough ends of asparagus, toss in a small amount of olive oil and grill to desired doneness. I light just a tad crunchy with a few grill marks.

In a large pot of boiling, heavily salted water cook pasta until al dente, approx. 7-9 minutes. Drain pasta in a strainer. While the pasts is cooking add the olive oil and onion to a large frying pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the snap peas and cook for 2 minutes until they soften slightly but maintain their crisp texture.

Remove from heat and add lemon juice, zest, mint, asparagus, 1/2 of the feta cheese and pasta. Stir well until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour pasta into serving bowl and top with remaining cheese and if you like, a few extra whole mint leaves.