In case it isn’t obvious… I love lemons. Ending a dish with a squeeze of lemon or a bit of zest, to me, makes the whole world seem just bit brighter. And now I’m revealing my newest lemon-y obsession… lemon thyme. I have a bunch of it growing in my garden, and it just smells so amazing. Sweet, bright, fragrant… move over basil. (Ok, not really).
My first thought was that this lemon thyme needs to be in a cake. But I’m not exactly Jeanine the baker, so my second thought was to make a bright summery salad with lots of lemon zest to bring out the herby flavor even more.
So here you have a lemon thyme vinaigrette that I poured over a warm salad of orzo, arugula, and bits of creamy fresh mozzarella. I added some sun-dried tomatoes for tang and toasted chopped walnuts for a nice crunch. A perfect (easy) Monday meal that’ll make you forget that it’s Monday. Pair this with a nice bottle of prosecco (or a cheap one, no judgement), and you’ll really forget that the week has only just started.
- 1 cup uncooked orzo
- 2 cups arugula or spinach
- ½ cup chopped fresh mozzarella
- 3-4 dry or oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ cup toasted and chopped walnuts or other nuts
- Lemon, for squeezing
- Grated parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons chopped lemon thyme, plus more for garnish
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Cook the orzo in boiling salted water for about 7-10 minutes, or until al dente.
- Make the lemon thyme vinaigrette: Whisk together the olive oil, garlic, vinegar, lemon zest, lemon thyme, and pinches of salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Place the arugula in a large bowl. When the orzo is done, use a slotted spoon to scoop the hot orzo over the arugula. Some of the pasta water will come over, that’s ok. If you don’t have a slotted spoon with small enough holes, drain your pasta and reserve some of the pasta water to add in.
- Add the mozzarella and pour in some of the dressing. Toss to combine, and the arugula will begin to wilt from the heat of the pasta. Add as much or as little of the dressing as you like. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Top with the reserved lemon thyme, lemon zest, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, and a squeeze of lemon. Serve warm or at room temperature with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.