Whip up a simple Mediterranean orzo salad featuring feta, an array of crisp veggies, fresh herbs, and a zesty Greek dressing. Ideal for picnics or prepping ahead for dinner, this wholesome pasta salad becomes even more delicious the next day. Perfect for summer gatherings, the recipe combines the bold flavors of feta cheese, olives, and a vibrant Greek dressing. Enjoy a burst of freshness and crunch in every bite, making this orzo salad a delightful addition to your seasonal picnics and cookouts.

If you find yourself in need of a quick and delicious side dish for an upcoming cookout or picnic, look no further than this orzo salad recipe! It’s a delightful combination of fresh and flavorful ingredients, remarkably easy to assemble, and, true to the essence of a perfect picnic salad, it thrives when prepared in advance. Mix it up a few hours or even a day before your summer gathering, and the flavors will still shine when it’s time to dig in.

But here’s the secret: even if your weekend plans don’t involve a cookout or your menu is already set, keep this orzo salad recipe handy. Its resilience makes it an excellent choice for a packed lunch. Enjoy the crispness of cucumbers, the juiciness of tomatoes, the brininess of olives, and the salty, tangy goodness of feta cheese. With hearty orzo pasta and chickpeas, it’s a satisfying meal, perfectly brought together by a zesty Greek dressing. Simply put, it’s absolutely delicious.

Reasons to love to Orzo pasta salad

the reasons to love orzo pasta salad are vast—its adaptability, ease of preparation, make-ahead convenience, refreshing nature, textural harmony, visual appeal, Mediterranean influence, versatility for different occasions, satisfying qualities, and the use of healthful ingredients make it a beloved dish for many.

  • Versatility: Orzo pasta salad is incredibly versatile, making it easy to adapt to various preferences and dietary needs. You can customize it with a wide range of vegetables, proteins, and dressings to suit your taste.
  • Ease of Preparation: This salad is quick and easy to prepare, making it a convenient option for busy days or last-minute gatherings. With minimal cooking time for orzo pasta and simple assembly, it’s a hassle-free dish.
  • Make-Ahead Appeal: Orzo pasta salad is perfect for making ahead, allowing flavors to meld and intensify over time. This quality makes it an excellent choice for picnics, potlucks, or as a meal prep option for the week.
  • Refreshing and Light: With its vibrant mix of fresh vegetables, herbs, and a zesty dressing, orzo pasta salad offers a refreshing and light eating experience. It’s particularly enjoyable on warm days or as a side dish to balance heartier main courses.
  • Appealing Presentation: Orzo pasta salad is not only delicious but also visually appealing. The colorful medley of ingredients, from vibrant vegetables to crumbled feta, makes it an inviting addition to any table or gathering.
  • Great for All Occasions: Whether it’s a casual family dinner, a weekend barbecue, a potluck, or a work lunch, orzo pasta salad is a versatile dish that suits various occasions. It’s a crowd-pleaser that can be enjoyed in different settings.

Ingredients needed to make Orzo Salad

  • Orzo Cherry tomatoes taste similar to other fresh tomatoes, but because of their small size, the flavor can be a little more concentrated. Bright and sweet, they have a thin, snappy peel and a very juicy center. 
  • Cherry tomatoes They are small but are bright and sweet. They have a thin peel and are very juicy in the center. I like to cut them in half for this recipe.
  • Parisian cucumbers They are small cucumbers with thin skin that doesn’t require being peeled and has very few seeds, and they tend to be less watery than other cucumbers. If you are not able to find them in your grocery store, you can use a regular cucumber and cut it into bite-size pieces.
  • Red onion I like to slice these onions as thin as possible. I like to use a mandolin if you have one, but if not, you can slice them thinly and dice them into small pieces.
  • Kalamata olives Briny and robust-flavored olives that bring a Mediterranean touch to the salad.
  • Feta Cheese In this recipe, I like to skip the crumbled feta cheese and use a feta that’s in little cubes or that you can cut into little pieces. I like to save the crumbled cheese for Greek salad.
  • Basil Use fresh basil and eat to your taste. I like to use it sparingly, but that’s my preference.

How to make Italian Orzo Salad

  • Cook Orzo: Cook the orzo pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside to cool.
  • Prepare Greek Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, lemon zest, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.
  • Combine Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked orzo, cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, Kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, chopped red onion, fresh basil, and chickpeas.
  • Toss with Dressing: Pour the prepared Greek dressing over the salad ingredients. Gently toss until everything is well coated in the dressing.
  • Season to Taste: Taste the orzo salad and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper if needed.
  • Chill (Optional): For enhanced flavors, refrigerate the orzo salad for at least 30 minutes before serving. This allows the ingredients to absorb the dressing and intensify their flavors.
  • Serve: Once chilled, serve the orzo salad in a large bowl or portion it onto individual plates. Garnish with additional fresh basil if desired.
  • Enjoy: Enjoy your homemade orzo salad as a refreshing and satisfying dish, perfect for picnics, potlucks, or a delightful lunch option.
orzo salad

Variations

  • Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Grilled Chicken: Add grilled chicken breast slices to make the orzo salad a complete and protein-packed meal. Marinate the chicken in Mediterranean-inspired spices for extra flavor.
  • Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad: Roast a mix of colorful vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes before incorporating them into the orzo salad. Roasting enhances their sweetness and adds depth to the dish.
  • Caprese Orzo Salad: Embrace Italian flavors by adding fresh mozzarella pearls and swapping the Greek dressing for a balsamic vinaigrette. Include ripe cherry tomatoes and fresh basil to complete the Caprese twist.
  • Orzo and Spinach Salad: Introduce a dose of green by tossing fresh baby spinach leaves into the orzo salad. The spinach wilts slightly when mixed with the warm pasta, creating a delightful texture.
  • Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Orzo Salad: Enhance the Mediterranean profile by adding chopped sun-dried tomatoes and a dollop of pesto to the orzo salad. This variation brings a rich and savory twist to the dish.
  • Orzo Salad with Feta and Watermelon: Infuse a burst of summer freshness by incorporating juicy watermelon cubes. The sweet and refreshing watermelon complements the salty feta and creates a delightful contrast.
  • Greek Orzo Salad with Tzatziki: Replace the Greek dressing with tzatziki sauce for a creamy and tangy variation. Include diced cucumbers, red onions, and dill to enhance the Greek flavor profile.
  • Orzo Salad with Avocado and Lime: Add creamy avocado chunks and a squeeze of fresh lime juice for a zesty and avocado-infused orzo salad. This variation brings a touch of brightness and creaminess to the dish.

Tips and Suggestions

  • Fresh and Quality Ingredients: Start with fresh and high-quality ingredients. Vibrant vegetables, ripe fruits, and flavorful herbs contribute to the overall taste and appearance of the orzo salad.
  • Cook Orzo Al Dente: Cook the orzo pasta al dente to ensure it has a slightly firm texture. Overcooked pasta can become mushy and affect the overall consistency of the salad.
  • Rinse and Cool Orzo: After cooking the orzo, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process and cool it quickly. This helps prevent the pasta from sticking together and provides a pleasant temperature for the salad.
  • Mix Dressing Separately: Prepare the dressing in a separate bowl before adding it to the salad. This allows you to adjust the flavors and achieve an even distribution of the dressing throughout the orzo salad.
  • Customize Vegetables: Feel free to customize the vegetable selection based on personal preferences and seasonal availability. Bell peppers, artichoke hearts, or asparagus are excellent additions.
  • Let It Chill: If time allows, refrigerate the orzo salad for at least 30 minutes before serving. Chilling enhances the flavors and allows the ingredients to absorb the dressing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to cook orzo for a salad?

Cook orzo pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, typically 8-10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. This helps prevent the pasta from becoming mushy and sticking together.

Can I make orzo salad ahead of time?

Yes, orzo salad is perfect for making ahead. Prepare the salad, cover it, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. This allows the flavors to meld, and the salad will be ready to serve when needed.

How do I store leftover orzo salad?

Store leftover orzo salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If the salad seems dry after refrigeration, add a splash of olive oil and toss before serving.

What vegetables work well in orzo salad?

Various vegetables can be used, including cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, red onions, artichoke hearts, and spinach. Customize the vegetable selection based on personal preferences.
orzo salad

Orzo salad

Whip up a simple Mediterranean orzo salad featuring feta, an array of crisp veggies, fresh herbs, and a zesty Greek dressing. Ideal for picnics or prepping ahead for dinner, this wholesome pasta salad becomes even more delicious the next day. Perfect for summer gatherings, the recipe combines the bold flavors of feta cheese, olives, and a vibrant Greek dressing. Enjoy a burst of freshness and crunch in every bite, making this orzo salad a delightful addition to your seasonal picnics and cookouts.
4.34 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine greek
Servings 8 servings
Calories 309 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 mandolin optional
  • 1 serving bowl

Ingredients
  

Salad

  • 8 ounces dried orzo pasta
  • 1-1/2 cups cucumber diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • ¼ cup red onion diced or sliced on mandolin
  • ½ cup feta cut into cubes or crumbled
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • ½ cup kalamata olives halved or quartered

Dressing

  • cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp parsley, oregano and dill 1 tbsp each herb
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Instructions
 

  • To make the dressing start by adding all of the ingredients to either a small bowl and whisking or a jar and shaking. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Cook orzo according to package directions
  • Toss with dressing and season with salt and pepper.
  • Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving

Notes

Orzo Pasta Salad will keep in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Stir before serving again. 
Keyword salad
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