Mediterranean Orzo Salad

This salad is full of fresh, crisp veggies, orzo, and a tangy lemon vinaigrette. It is bursting with Mediterranean flavors and is a healthy, light, and delicious family favorite. Add some protein for a complete meal.

I like to serve this salad with Spicy Sweet Chicken Kabobs, Rosemary Garlic Grilled Chicken, or Citrus Marinated Flank Steak.

White bowl full of homemade Mediterranean Orzo Salad with chopped vegetables and fresh herbs. Side view.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

This delicious pasta salad is a healthy side dish or lunch incorporating vegetables into your family’s diet. It’s very versatile, using whatever veggies or proteins you have on hand. It’s also perfect for potlucks, picnics, or parties.

What Is Orzo?

Jar of uncooked orzo pasta sitting on a blue and white striped towel on a blonde board.

Orzo is a tiny rice-shaped pasta or “pastina,” originating in Italy. It’s made from semolina wheat and has the same nutritional content as other pastas. Cooking orzo in bone broth will provide additional nutrients, such as protein, collagen, and flavor.

Like other kinds of pasta, cook orzo according to the package directions in salted water for about 8-10 minutes.

Ingredients Needed

  • Orzo pasta
  • Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes add sweet bursts of flavor.
  • Red onion—I like to use red onions because they’re less pungent when used raw. Other onions can be used. To make them less strong in flavor, soak the chopped onions in ice water for about 20 minutes to mellow the flavor.
  • Celery – adds texture, crunch, and a bright flavor.
  • Cucumber – I like using mini cucumbers or English cucumbers, unpeeled, and chopped.
  • Yellow bell pepper – this adds another color to the dish, sweetness, and some crunch.
  • Fresh herbs – I used parsley and fresh dill. You could also use fresh oregano, thyme, or rosemary.
  • Kalamata olives – these will add a salty, savory flavor. Buy kalamata olives that are already pitted. It makes life so much easier.
  • Feta cheese – I like using the kind that’s packed in oil and herbs. I made this salad without the cheese, and it was still delicious.
  • Lemons for the dressing – this adds the acidity to the dressing. Use enough to balance the olive oil and herbs.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Grainy mustard – you could use Dijon as well.
  • Dried herbs – I used oregano, basil, and time
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
White bowl full of homemade Mediterranean Orzo Salad with chopped vegetables and fresh herbs.

Steps To Make This Recipe

I love this type of recipe with a very short list of steps.

  1. Cook the pasta in salted water. Drain and drizzle with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Dump the pasta into a large salad bowl.
  2. Make the dressing by adding all of the ingredients to a mason jar or blender and shake or blend until well combined. Set aside
  3. Chop the vegetables and herbs and place in the bowl with the pasta.
  4. Add half of the dressing and toss. Taste and adjust for lemon, salt, and pepper.
  5. Cover tightly and chill before serving. Add a bit more dressing if the salad seems dry.

Tips And Tricks

  • Be sure to salt the pasta water well. It’s a fair bit of pasta, and it needs the salt for flavor. Cook the orzo in stock, broth, or bone broth for even more flavor.
  • Use the freshest and crunchiest vegetables that will hold up to the dressing and maintain their crunch.
  • Speaking of crunch veggies, chop them into small bits similar in size. This will help distribute them more evenly in the orzo and pasta.
  • Fresh herbs are best in the salad. With the parsley, chop both the leaves and the stems. Dill has a stronger flavor, so use only the fronds.
  • Adjust the oil and lemon juice to your family’s tastes. You can use white wine vinegar for some of the lemon juice for a less acidic dressing.
  • You can also use lemon zest for even more lemon flavor.
  • Dress the orzo while its still warm to soak up the dressing and the flavors of the vegetables better.
  • Allow time, even overnight if possible, to allow the flavors to meld. At least an hour is good.
White bowl full of homemade Mediterranean Orzo Salad with chopped vegetables and fresh herbs. Top view.

Variations

  • Vegetables like sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, fresh baby spinach, or arugula.
  • Play with fresh herbs for different flavor profiles – basil, tarragon, thyme
  • Try other types of orzo. There is whole wheat, tri-color, and chickpea orzo with protein, to name a few.
  • Add cooked chicken or shrimp to make it hearty enough for a main course.

Can It Be Made Ahead, Stored, Or Frozen?

The dish is even better when made ahead and served the next day. If fact, I would say that it’s even better the next day.

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. The orzo will absorb even more dressing. You may need to add additional dressing before serving.

This dish does not freeze well.

More Healthy Recipes To Consider

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
White bowl full of homemade Mediterranean Orzo Salad with chopped vegetables and fresh herbs. Top view.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad


Description

This salad is full of fresh, crisp veggies, orzo, and a tangy lemon vinaigrette. It is bursting with Mediterranean flavors and is a healthy, light, and delicious family favorite. Add some protein for a complete meal.


Ingredients

Scale

For the salad:

  • 2 cups dry orzo pasta
  • ½ cup quartered cherry tomatoes, seeded
  • ¼ cup finely minced red onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped celery
  • ¼ cup finely chopped peeled and seeded cucumber
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, seeded and minced
  • ½ cup packed chopped herbs (I used parsley and dill)
  • ¼ cup quartered kalamata olives
  • ¼ cup feta cheese, finely crumbled

For the dressing:

  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 large lemons)
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (more or less to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil (more or less to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme (more or less to taste)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

In a large pot, cook your pasta according to the package directions. Don’t overcook the orzo; you want it slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.

Toss the vegetables, herbs, olives, and feta cheese in a large salad bowl. Fold in the orzo pasta and set aside.

Make the dressing.

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar. Screw on the lid tightly and shake until well mixed.

Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.

Pour about half of the dressing over the salad,

Toss until all the vegetables and the orzo are coated lightly with the dressing.

Cover the salad and chill for at least 30 minutes. 

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Boil, Toss
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Keywords: Mediterranean Orzo Salad, side dish, Mediterranean diet, orzo, pasta salad, healthy recipes

Please follow and like us:
Yum