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Comfort Food Done Light: Creamy Ham & Pea Orzo Salad

Freshen up your next spread with this brightly flavored salad made with peas, pasta, ham and herbs.
By Stephanie Wise
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One of my favorite aspects of springtime (besides the sunshine, warmth, green grass, flowers and all that other good stuff) is the return of outdoor gatherings with friends and family. From potlucks to parties, spring brings with it not only a sense of rejuvenation, but the opportunity to share dishes with bright, fresh, seasonal flavors that were dormant all winter long. 

This recipe for Creamy Lemon Orzo with Peas and Ham is one of my favorite spring dishes. It’s made with fresh herbs, tangy lemon and savory ham all mixed together with creamy Greek yogurt, and it’s so easy to put together. You can make it up to a day in advance, too, which is always a plus for busy families like ours. I love making this dish for potlucks as well as for a delicious, light, prepped-ahead lunch for the week.

To start, prepare the ingredients. The stars of this dish certainly are the herbs, lemon and ham, but the sweet peas, toasted sliced almonds and minced shallot also offer great flavor and texture. (You’ll find the complete list of ingredients in the recipe below!)

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Cook the orzo pasta according to package directions, then drain and set aside to cool slightly. While the orzo cools, zest 1 lemon into a large bowl and squeeze 1/2 cup of lemon juice into a measuring cup. Add the warm pasta along with half of the squeezed lemon juice to the large bowl with the zest and give the mixture a good toss.

Stir in one cup Yoplait Greek 100 plain yogurt, cubed cooked ham (you can use either a pre-cubed and cooked version from the store, or chop up any leftover ham roast you might have!), Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and minced shallot. Cover and chill the mixture for at least 2 hours but up to 24 hours so the flavors can meld together.

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Meanwhile, cook, drain and cool a box of Green Giant Steamers frozen sweet peas, then add them to the bowl along with chopped fresh herbs, toasted sliced almonds and sliced green onions.

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Give the mixture a good stir until well combined; then add enough of the remaining lemon juice, as well as some salt and pepper, to your desired taste. As the mixture sits the lemon and salt flavors become more enhanced, so don’t go too overboard with these ingredients.

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Serve the pasta salad cold or at room temperature. Leftovers will stay fresh up to another day or two.

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For your next springtime (or anytime!) potluck or party, or for an easy make-ahead, on-the-go lunch, give this fresh and bright pasta salad a try!

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