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Close up side view of a bowl of orzo stirred up with asparagus and topped with sliced tofu cutlet and parsley.

One Pot Lemon Orzo with Sauteed Asparagus

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  • Author: Catherine Perez
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 3 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: One Pot
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


This lemon orzo is served with sauteed asparagus and tofu, but more importantly it is easy to make and cooks in just one pan! A complete meal that you can make any night of the week and feel good about.



Lemon Pepper Seared Tofu

  • 1, ~400g block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Lemon Orzo

  • 2 tbsp avocado oil plus more if needed
  • 10 asparagus spears, woody stems removed and cut on a bias
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp capers, minced (optional)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tsp yellow or white miso paste
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan
  • 1 1/2 cups dry orzo
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place your tofu on a cutting board on it’s side and cut it into 3 equal slabs. Optional, diagonally score the top surface of the tofu, scoring it about 1/3 of the way through the slab.
  2. Place the tofu into a shallow dish and drizzle with the soy sauce and lemon juice to coat. In a separate shallow dish, combine the cornstarch, garlic and lemon pepper together. Dredge the tofu in the cornstarch mixture and set aside.
  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet with your oil over medium heat. When hot, place the tofu slabs in the pan score side down and sear for 5 minutes. Flip the tofu and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until both sides are golden. Transfer the tofu to paper towels to drain.
  4. To the same pan, add the asparagus along with a pinch of salt and sauté for 3-4 minutes until tender then remove from pan.
  5. Now add the shallots and sauté again until softened. Stir in the capers, garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to sauté until the garlic is fragrant.
  6. Add the miso paste and lightly mash it with the back of your spatula, then add the nutritional yeast and orzo. Stir the mixture to coat.
  7. Pour in your vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent the orzo from sticking. Allow the orzo to cook for 8-10 minutes uncovered until the orzo is al dente.
  8. Once the orzo has absorbed most of the liquid, stir in the parsley, asparagus and remaining lemon juice and remove from heat. Serve the orzo with the tofu and enjoy.


Stir the orzo frequently. This will help prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pan as it simmers in the broth.

Instead of pan searing, feel free to bake your tofu. To do this, add a tablespoon of oil to the soy sauce mixture when coating the tofu. Once coated in cornstarch, place on a baking tray and spray the tofu cutlets with a little oil then bake in the oven at 425F for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway.

Add more protein. Drain and rinse off some chickpeas to stir into the orzo as it simmers. This will help add an additional 24.5 grams of protein to the whole meal.

Make it cheesier. Nutritional yeast helps add both some extra vitamin B12 when fortified as well as some cheesy flavor. For more cheesy goodness, while still keeping it dairy-free, try grating your favorite vegan parmesan over top before serving.

Add additional oil as needed while cooking. You may see the pan dry up in spots as you cook each component, so feel free to add a little more oil as needed to prevent things from sticking. As an alternative, you can also use veggie broth to deglaze the pan as you start to sauté up the vegetables and aromatics.