Dinner/ Italian recipes/ Lunch/ Pasta/ Quick & Easy/ Vegan/ Vegetarian

Lemon Orzo with Asparagus, Bimi, Crispy Pancetta and Garlicky Bread Crumbs

29 April 2021

This is one of those dishes that by just adjusting a few ingredients you can make it as seasonal as you want: Asparagus for spring, pumpkin for summer, mushrooms fro autumn and kale for winter, all of course served with crispy pancetta and crunch bread crumbs.

I always have a jar of breadcrumbs lying around (see notes), a perfect no-food-waste addition to your dishes. I love to fry it up in some olive oil, add some flavourings like garlic, chili, thyme, parsley whatever you have lying around and then use it on soups, salads, pasta’s. Yum!

Lemon Orzo with Asparagus, Bimi, Crispy Pancetta and Crunchy Garlic Bread Crumbs

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Dinner, lunch Italian
By Saffron Serves: 2-3
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes


  • 1 cup orzo
  • 200 g green asparagus
  • 300 g bimi / broccolini
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup panko or homemade breadcrumbs (see notes)
  • 1 tbsp garlic granules or garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan - Leave out it keeping it vegan
  • Small bunch fresh herbs like dill or parsley
  • 6 - 9 slices of pancetta (3 slices per person) - Leave out it keeping it vegetarian / vegan
  • Pepper and salt



Line a baking tray with baking paper and divide the pancetta slices so the don't overlap.


Place in the cold oven and then turn the heat on to 220°C. Bake the for ± 10 minutes until crispy.


In the meantime make the bread crumbs: add a drop of olive oil to a frying pan, when hot add the bread crumbs, garlic granules and season with pepper and salt. Keep stirring until browned and crunchy. ± 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside, keep the pan ready for the veggies.


Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.


Add the orzo and cook until al dent, ± 7 minutes.


At the same time add a drop of oil to the frying pan you used earlier and add the vegetables, stir fry until slightly charred but still al dente, ± 5 minutes.


While the orzo and vegetables cook, make the dressing: In a large bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons oil and the lemon zest and juice; season to taste with salt and pepper.


Drain the orzo, add the vegetables to the pan and drizzle over the dressing. Toss to coat.


Stir in the parmesan and fresh herbs and season with pepper and salt.


Divide the orzo over the plates, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, some extra lemon zest and the crispy pancetta.


To make the breadcrumbs to store, use any old bread you have lying around, wholewheat, sourdough, baguette. Roughly grind it down in a food processor and spread it out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for ± 10 minutes at 150°C. Stir now and then and continue to bake until lightly toasted. Let cool and save in an airtight jar. It will keep for up to 2 months.

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