It’s finally summer and you know what that means – picnics, barbecues and long days at the beach. This Mediterranean orzo salad is perfect for taking on the go. It is light, yet substantial and dressed in a light vinaigrette. It is one of our favorite Mediterranean lunch recipes for the work week.
I love this particular pasta salad because of all of the fresh vegetables it has. If you really wanted to load it up – broccoli, julienned zucchini, summer squash, cauliflower, red bell pepper or even summer beans would all be great in this salad.
Making salads of all kinds is my go-to during the warmer months. Check out my favorite summer salads post, you might find a new favorite!
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Mediterranean Orzo Salad
One of my goals when making salads like this is to make enough for leftovers. I can have it for lunch the next day and maybe as a side for dinner the day after that. No one wants to spend hours in front of the stove when it is sweltering outside.
I made this for clients last week and received a text that said simply “best orzo salad ever”. It is the perfect thing to take to a party or summer potluck, because you don’t have to worry about a heavy dressing.
Orzo salad with feta
A bit of crumbled feta in this salad really makes it sing. If feta isn’t your favorite, you can substitute it with ricotta salata, also a crumbly cheese but more mild in flavor than feta. If you like a creamier cheese, a fresh goat cheese would be fabulous in this pasta salad.
If you love feta as much as we do, try this Beet Spinach Salad with Feta or Mushroom, Olive and Feta-Stuffed Phyllo with Whipped Feta Dip.
Need to make it non-dairy? This salad is easily made vegan by omitting the cheese.
Can orzo salad be made a day ahead?
Absolutely! This cold orzo salad might actually be better the next day. I usually make it a day ahead because I’m always pressed for time the day of a party. You may want to make a little extra dressing to pour over the orzo right before serving.
The orzo will soak up the dressing overnight, so plan on making extra dressing in case you need it.
My latest recipe video:
orzo pasta salad
Pasta salads sometimes get a bad rap. That’s probably because we’re thinking of the pasta salads of the 70’s and 80’s. Not that I mind those, I like quite a few of those church potluck standards, but they can be gloppy, heavy and messy.
Trade out the mayo-based dressing for a light vinaigrette and tons of fresh vegetables and herbs and now you have a pasta salad that anyone would be happy to eat. This particular orzo salad is my usual beach lunch. I pack a container of this in the cooler and it stays fresh all day.
orzo salad recipe
As with all recipes like this, use it as a guide, but feel free to change it up to suit your tastes. If you don’t care for olives, leave them out. If you want to pack it with even more vegetables, scroll back up to the beginning for some suggestions.
This is the kind of cooking we can all handle when it’s “too hot to cook”. It is light and fresh yet it is substantial enough to leave you satisfied. Make a big batch to last you a few days and you’ll have lunch for the week ahead.
What can I serve with this orzo salad?
Make it a meal! This orzo salad would go great with some meatballs or a burger for your next BBQ.
- Lamb Meatballs
- Baked Chicken Meatballs
- Lamb Burger with Tahini Yogurt Sauce
- Strawberry No Bake Cheese Bars
- Vegan Blueberry Buckle from Healthy Slow Cooking
What do I need to make this recipe?
Below are a few links for harder to find items.
• Oil-cured black olives – I find these at the olive bar at Whole Foods, but if you don’t have a WF near you, you can order them on amazon.
• Sun Dried tomatoes in olive oil
• Sherry Vinegar – this is an inexpensive vinegar, note that sherry vinegar is NOT the same as cooking sherry!
• A better quality sherry vinegar, worth EVERY penny, this will last you a long time. This is the one I use.
• Tri-color orzo – regular orzo would be just fine, but if you find this tri-color, it is really pretty.
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- 1/2 lb orzo (tri-color if you can find it)
- 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup marinated, quartered artichoke hearts, chopped
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup cucumber, quartered & thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup pitted,black olives, sliced (I used oil-cured olives)
- 1/3 cup feta, crumbled (or ricotta salata if you don’t like feta)
- 1 tbsp lemon zest, grated
- 1 tbsp capers
- 2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1/4 bunch parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Cook orzo according to package instructions.
- Toss orzo with 1 tbsp olive oil to coat pasta.
- Combine lemon juice, sherry vinegar and remaining olive oil. Whisk to combine, pour over orzo.
- Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
If you make the orzo pasta salad ahead of time, you may need to add a bit more dressing to it the next day. The orzo will soak up the dressing.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 293Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 509mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 9g
Nutrition was calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended only as a guideline.