Local Mizuna and Toasted Orzo Salad

Welcome spring with this colorful, fresh take on a pasta salad tossed with toasted orzo and local mizuna.

Anne Leonard

Gray skies and bare trees are hardly the signs of spring, but the Old Beach Farmers Market buzzed with pups and produce last weekend. After weaving in and out of the Shamrock traffic, my husband and I made it to Old Beach. The market (located in the parking lot of Croc's 19th Street Bistro) is closing in on their winter monthly schedule—meeting every third Saturday—but once May 2nd rolls around, they’re back with their weekly shindigs.

Upon each market visit, I scan each of the booths, marveling at all the colors and freshly picked produce until something strikes my fancy. The vibrant mizuna from Mattawoman Creek Farms did just that, so I trekked back home with two bundles. Mizuna is a crunchy, slightly peppery and bitter green waiting to be sautéed, tossed in a green salad or atop a pizza. In this case, a pasta salad was in store. No mayo or vinaigrette here; just lemon juice and red onion to add a little spice while tomatoes and a sprinkling of hearts of palm add a variety of texture without compromising the flavor. Orzo is one of my favorite types of pasta next to orecchiette. I typically toss a handful in soup or marinara, but toasting orzo is a whole other ball game. The aroma of these little smidgens of deliciousness become more nutty; not to mention the added golden hue next to the mizuna and vegetables make for one pretty, and lighter, pasta salad for the—hopefully—warmer spring days to come.

Mizuna and Orzo Salad Recipe

Toasted Orzo and Mizuna Salad

Total Time: 22 minutes

Active Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

local mizuna and orzo pasta salad ingredients


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/4 cups orzo, uncooked

2 cups water

juice from 1 lemon

1/2 small red onion, chopped

1/4 cup hearts of palm, chopped

1 small tomato, diced

A handful of fresh mizuna, leaves detached from stems

salt and pepper to taste

orzo pasta


Heat olive oil in a saucepan on medium high heat. Once heated, add orzo. Toast for about 5 minutes, stirring to make sure orzo doesn't burn.

toasted orzo pasta

toasted orzo pasta

Once toasted, add water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and simmer on medium heat for about 12 minutes until orzo is al dente and water has evaporated. Transfer orzo to a large bowl. Add the remainder of ingredients and toss to combine. Serve immediately, though the next day is just as tasty.

mizuna and orzo pasta

Here’s a recipe for Spicy Sausage and Arugula over Orecchiette. 

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