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-ey 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.
serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side
1 cup uncooked orzo
2 cups arugula (or spinach would work too)|
1/2 cup chopped fresh mozzarella
3-4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped (mine were dried, you can also use oil packed)
1/4 cup toasted and chopped walnuts (or other kind of nut)
squeeze of lemon
optional: grated parmesan cheese
lemon thyme vinaigrette:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (plus a little more for garnish at the end)
2 tablespoons chopped lemon thyme (plus a little more for garnish at the end)
salt & pepper, to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes
Cook the orzo in boiling salted water. Cook for about 7-10 minutes, (or until al dente).
Whisk together all ingredients for the lemon thyme vinaigrette. Set aside.
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. (or 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, the arugula will begin to wilt from the heat of the pasta. Add as much or little of the dressing as you like. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Top with a few of the reserved lemon thyme, walnuts, and a squeeze of lemon. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese (optional).