Labor-intensive risotto takes a detour through easy-town in this delicious risotto variation. Bright lemon citrus pairs perfectly with asparagus, spinach, and Sweety Drop peppers. So easy. So quick. So yummy. So what are you waiting for? Let's do this thing.
Once water is boiling, add orzo pasta and stir occasionally until al dente, 7-8 minutes.
Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta in a wire-mesh strainer.
Reserve pan; no need to wipe clean.
While orzo cooks, prepare ingredients.
Prepare the Ingredients
Trim woody ends off asparagus. Cut into 1" pieces on an angle.
Crush croutons into small crumbs.
Coarsely chop Sweety Drop peppers.
Zest lemon, halve, and juice.
Sauté the Asparagus
Return pan used to cook orzo to medium-high heat and add 2 tsp. olive oil. Add asparagus and cook until beginning to caramelize, 3-4 minutes.
Combine reserved pasta water and vegetable base.
Reduce heat to medium and stir pasta water-vegetable base mix into pan.
Start the Orzo Risotto
Reduce heat to medium-low and return drained orzo to pan.
Stir in Parmesan, butter, and half the crushed croutons (reserve remaining for garnish).
Finish the Orzo Risotto
Add spinach, Sweety Drop peppers (to taste), and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice to pan.
Stir occasionally until spinach wilts and risotto thickens, 1-2 minutes.
Remove from burner and season with ¼ tsp. salt and a pinch of pepper.
Plate dish as pictured on front of card, garnishing with lemon zest (to taste), basil pesto, and remaining crushed croutons. Bon appétit!