This creamy lemon orzo skillet is loaded with smoked salmon and tender asparagus spears in a rich lemon mascarpone sauce. – ready in less than an hour with a handful of ingredients!
A skillet full of spring + carbs for your Monday dinner pleasure! Meet the orzo we literally can’t stop eating.
With the weather turning warmer, I’m starting to move into dishes featuring bright flavors like lemon and aaaall the spring produce. This orzo is kinda a combo of rich and creamy + bright and fresh flavors.
And it is a GOOD one! Super fast to whip up too, and c’mon, smoked salmon is making an appearance.
There’s no passing up a huge bowl of this orzo, and honestly, try to stop yourself from taking spoonfuls straight from the pan.
The secret’s in the sauce and the salmon for sure. All around just a carb dream.
This Creamy Lemon Orzo features…
- A creamy, flavorful lemon mascarpone sauce
- Tender orzo pasta
- Smoky, melt-in-your-mouth smoked salmon
- Tender blanched asparagus spears
Making the Creamy Lemon Orzo
(scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe!)
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Orzo Pasta – we like the small shape of orzo for this recipe but any kind will work!
- Lemon – you will need both fresh lemon juice and zest – about 1 lemon’s worth.
- Garlic – fresh garlic is a must here!
- Olive Oil – for sautéing the garlic – use extra-virgin if you can!
- Parsley – adds a little herby punch.
- Mascarpone Cheese – this is the base to the sauce and makes the pasta SO creamy. If you don’t have mascarpone on hand, cream cheese will also work!
- Milk – a little milk thins the mascarpone and cuts the richness just a bit.
- Smoked Salmon – bite-size smoked salmon goes perfectly with the lemon in this pasta.
- Asparagus – perfectly blanched asparagus spears give this skillet a little pop of spring!
Choosing Your Salmon
I recommend using smoked salmon in this recipe because the smoky flavors pair SO good with the fresh lemon and creamy mascarpone.
If you don’t have smoked salmon available or on hand, you can still make this recipe! Regular cooked salmon works great in this pasta.
Don’t like salmon? You can easily leave it out or sub in a different meat such as cooked chicken or sausage.
We use asparagus in this recipe, but you can use many others if you’re not a fan or can’t get ahold of asparagus!
- Broccoli (steamed or roasted)
- Carrots (steamed or roasted)
- Green Beans (steamed or roasted)
- Zucchini (sautéed on the stove)
Choosing Your Pasta
Orzo works like a gem in this recipe (and really who doesn’t love orzo??) but literally any other shape will work just fine.
When cooking your pasta make sure you cook the pasta only to al dente and reserve some of the pasta cooking water for thinning the sauce later.
There’s just no passing up a huge bowl of this orzo, you guys. The creamy lemon sauce, the smoky salmon, the tender asparagus…it’s just all SO good together.
Plus the easiest thing EVER to throw together on a weeknight! 10 basic pantry ingredients, 40 minutes, BOOM!
If you feel inclined to eat this orzo straight outta the skillet, just know there’s zero judgement from me. It’s just too good.
More easy pasta recipes to add to your menu!
Watch this orzo made step-by-step on Google Web Stories!
Creamy Lemon Orzo with Smoked Salmon and Asparagus
- 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-in pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 16 oz orzo, cooked according to package instructions and kept warm (reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water)
- 8 oz smoked salmon, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a medium pot of lightly-salted water to boil. Add asparagus and cook 3-5 minutes until asparagus is crisp-tender when pierced with a fork. Immediately plunge asparagus into ice water to cool quickly. Drain asparagus and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil until shimmery. Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes until a very light golden brown. Add mascarpone and milk. Cook 3-5 minutes until sauce is smooth and thickened.
- Add lemon juice, zest, parsley, pasta, salmon, and asparagus to sauce. Thin sauce with reserved pasta water as needed and and cook over medium heat an additional 3-5 minutes until heated through and pasta is evenly coated in sauce.
- Season skillet with salt and pepper to taste. Serve orzo hot and enjoy!