This orzo salad recipe is perfect for summer picnics and barbecues! Feta cheese, olives, and a tangy Greek dressing fill it with a bold flavor.
If you need a last minute side dish for a barbecue or picnic this weekend, whip up this orzo salad recipe! It’s fresh and tasty, easy to make, and like any good picnic salad, perfect for making ahead. Toss it a few hours to a day before a summer gathering, and it will still taste great when you’re ready to eat.
But even if you’re not planning a barbecue this weekend (or your menu is ready to go), still stow this orzo salad recipe in your back pocket. Because it keeps so well, it’s a great recipe to take out for lunch. Crispy cucumbers and juicy tomatoes highlight the brackish olives and tangy, salty feta cheese. Orzo pasta and chickpeas make it nice and filling, and a tangy Greek vinaigrette ties it all together. Delicious.
Ingredients for the orzo salad recipe
Here’s what you’ll need to make this orzo pasta salad recipe:
- Orzo, of course! I love the way this little shape of pasta mixes and mingles with the other ingredients.
- Cherry tomatoes – For sweet and juicy touches of flavor.
- Persian cucumbers – They add a cool and refreshing crunch.
- Red onion – Slice these guys as thinly as you can. I recommend using a mandolin if you have one!
- Kalamata olives – Their salty and brackish flavor contrasts with fresh herbs, cucumbers and tomatoes.
- Feta cheese – Skip the pre-crumbled feta for this recipe. Instead, look for the feta in a block, preferably in brine. Its flavor and texture are so much better. You’ll never have the crumbled kind again!
- Chickpeas – I love chickpeas with Mediterranean ingredients like feta and olives, so I couldn’t resist tossing them in this orzo salad. They make it more substantial too.
- greek dressing – In this orzo salad, I make the dressing extra shiny by adding an extra tablespoon of red wine vinegar and a big drizzle of lemon juice.
- Fresh mint and / or basil – Choose just one or use a mixture.
- And sea salt and fresh black pepper – To burst all the flavors!
Find the full recipe with the measurements below.
Cook the orzo and dice the vegetables, feta and olives while it cools.
Then whip the dressing and mix everything together. Making this orzo salad recipe is that easy!
Orzo salad recipe tips
- Cook the pasta a little al dente. Every time I make a pasta salad, I cook the pasta just right past al dente, so that it remains tender after cooling.
- And let cool before adding the vegetables. If you mix the hot orzo with the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion, they will start to wilt. Instead, drain the cooked orzo, drizzle it with olive oil to keep it from sticking, and spread it in an even layer on a large baking sheet to cool. . When it reaches room temperature, continue with the recipe.
- Get ahead. You can make this orzo salad recipe up to a day in advance, but save the herbs to add them at the last minute. If they sit in the dressing for too long, they will wilt, so it’s best to throw them away right before eating. The salad can also dry out a bit in the refrigerator. If you think it needs more moisture, loosen it with a drizzle of olive oil before serving.
Suggested portion of orzo salad
This orzo salad recipe is a perfect side dish for summer picnics and barbecues. Pair it with other sides like grilled corn on the cob or grilled vegetables, a broccoli salad, a potato salad and / or a coleslaw. If you need a main course, try making one of these recipes:
If you have any leftovers, save them for lunch the next day. Thanks to orzo, chickpeas, feta and olives, the salad alone makes for a light but satisfying meal.
More Favorite Pasta Salad Recipes
If you like this orzo salad recipe, then try one of these fresh pasta salads:
This orzo salad recipe makes a fresh and delicious side dish or a vegetarian lunch! If you prepare it ahead of time, save the herbs to add them at the last minute. I also recommend tossing the salad with a drizzle of olive oil before serving.
- 1½ cups orzo pasta
- 1 Recipe Greek dressing
- 1 teaspoon Red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Oregano
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 Persian cucumbers, cut in half vertically and sliced ¼ inch thick
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1 Chopped off cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 4 ounces feta cheese, cut into ¼ inch cubes
- ⅓ Chopped off sliced red onion
- ½ Chopped off pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 Chopped off fresh basil and / or mint leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare pasta according to package directions or until slightly al dente. Drain the orzo and mix it with a little olive oil so that it does not stick. Spread on a baking sheet to cool.
Prepare the Greek dressing and add the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano and sea salt.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked orzo, cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas, feta, red onion and olives. Pour the dressing over the salad, add half the herbs, season with freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat. Garnish with the remaining herbs and serve.