Okay so we know this isn’t the first orzo / risoni recipe we’ve posted but in our defence it is the pantry staple that keeps us well-fed on busy days. This little spring combo makes great use of the gorgeous asparagus that is being grown in Melbourne’s food bowl and puts spring onions and leeks to work too.  

This recipe was initially written for a new project, Food in Common, where we work with seniors in Melbourne to improve food, gardening and digital literacy at the same time! If you prefer watching the cooking instead of reading a recipe – please see the video just below. 

As always – show us what’s cooking in your kitchen @melb_food_hub. 

Asparagus + Blue Cheese Orzotto

Recipe courtesy our very own Georgia Karavis

Serves 2 Ingredients:
  • 1 leek or 3-4 spring onions
  • 250g orzo / risoni pasta
  • Large handful rocket 
  • Large handful of toasted nuts (almonds, hazelnuts)
  • 1 lemon (zest + juice)
  •  85g blue cheese, goats cheese or parmesan
  • 1 brown onion 
  • 1 bunch of asparagus 
  • Small handful of green olives
  • 750ml of stock (vegetable or chicken is best – replace 250ml with white wine if you fancy)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of oil or butter


  • Chop leek into thin rings about 2/3rds of the way up the stalk, removing the tough outer leaves as you work your way up. Rinse well. 
  • Roughly cube brown onion. 
  • Heat butter or oil in a deep pan over low-medium heat. 
  • Add onions and leek and cook until soft, 5-10 minutes.
  • Zest lemon (about 2 teaspoons worth) and add to pan. 
  • Snap the dead ends off your asparagus and cut into 2cm lengths. Set aside.
  • Combine your nuts and olives and roughly chop and set aside. 
  • Add pasta to the pot and stir well so that each grain is coated in oil/butter. Cook for 3 or so minutes. 
  • Pour over your stock ½ at a time and stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer again and cook for a 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop sticking on the bottom. 
  • Once your pasta is almost cooked and is looking a little thicker, add asparagus and allow to cook for a further 5 minutes. 
  • Add lemon juice.
  • Crumble in chunks of cheese or grated if you are using a hard cheese. Stir to combine. 
  • Check pasta is cooked and if so, turn off the heat, add the chopped almonds and olives. 
  • Add rocket and stir through. Serve!
  • Add dried or fresh chilli at the end 
  • Top with a poached or fried egg for some extra protein 
  • Serve with poached or roasted chicken breasts or a nice fresh green salad
  • Swap out rocket for kale and add in when cooking leeks
  • Reheats well in the microwave or oven
  • Leaving out the blue cheese until you are ready to serve means you can re-work leftovers into a minestrone style soup by adding more stock, a can of tomatoes and any other vegetables you have that need using. Just add the cooked orzo for the last 5 minutes so it doesn’t turn mushy.