Greek Orzo Pasta Salad – Healthy Seasonal Recipes


This Orzo Greek Pasta Salad comes together in just 30 minutes and requires only a couple of easy steps. Simply toss together cooked orzo pasta with a tangy lemon garlic vinaigrette and a generous handful of chopped fresh dill and mint. Then all that is left to do is to add in crumbled feta cheese, fresh cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, red onion and black Greek olives. Serve it as a side dish for a summer picnic, barbecue or cookout.

Orzo Pasta salad in a white bowl on a table.

Why We Love This Recipe For Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

When it comes to pasta salads, I love them all! I love classic creamy pasta salads like this Healthy Macaroni Salad and this Pasta Salad with Ham and Peas as well as those with flavor inspiration found from around the globe like this Healthy Italian Pasta Salad, and this Mexican Pasta Salad too!

This Greek Orzo Pasta Salad falls into the latter category. To make it, I used ingredients inspired by a traditional Greek Salad and turned them into a pasta salad!

I am so glad I did because this is going to be my new go-to this summer! This pasta salad is fast, flavorful and so simple to make! It is made with orzo pasta, cucumber, tomatoes, and onion, with tangy feta cheese and Greek black olives.

To make this easy pasta salad, simply boil the orzo pasta and chop up the veggies. Then stir together with a simple lemon and herb vinaigrette. What you get is a delicious side for a summer picnic, barbecue or cookout. Pair with Garlic Herb Grilled Chicken or Shrimp and Kebabs or with Grilled Za’atar Chicken Burgers!

Key Ingredients for this Recipe

1 ½ cups dry orzo pasta (about 11 ounces) 1/3 cup lemon juice 1 clove garlic, finely minced ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint 2 ½ teaspoons dried oregano 1 ¼ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground black pepper 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half 1 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, preferably reduced fat ½ cup pitted black Greek olives, roughly chopped ½ cup minced red onion in small glass bowls on a table.

Orzo

Orzo is Italian rice-shaped Pasta commonly used for soups, like Italian Wedding Soup or Minestrone. It is also commonly seen in rice pilaf. Look for it in the pasta aisle in small 1-pound boxes. Occasionally you can find whole-wheat orzo which it is the healthier option. You’ll need 1 1/2 cup of dry orzo, which is about 11 ounces. 

Fresh Veggies

For this recipe, I’ve used cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion and European cucumbers, all traditional for a Greek Salad. I like to chop the cucumber into pretty small pices and finely dice the onion. Since the pasta is so small, I find that the smaller veggies blend in better with the pasta.

Feta Cheese

With a salty and slightly tangy taste, Feta is a Greek brined curd cheese made primarily from sheep’s milk, though it can be made with cow’s milk or goat milk. Feta is traditionally served as a table cheese, in Greek salads, and pastries – like phyllo-based dishes such as Spinach and Feta Filo Pie.

You may have to go to the artisanal cheese section of the grocery stores to find it, and it may be either already crumbled or in a chunk packed in water or simply in plastic. If you buy it in a chunk, you will have to crumble it prior to adding it to the dish.

Black Olives

These small but delicious additions to this salad are a no-brainer because of their Greek origin. Their mild saltiness subtly brings out the other flavors of the dish. Look for Greek olives (not ripe California olives which are too mild.) Calamata (or Kalamata Olives) are popular Greek olives.

You’ll need to remove the pits before adding them to the salad, so if you can find a jar of pitted olives that will save you a step!

Lemon Juice and Olive Oil

Fresh squeezed lemon juice is best, and olive oil is definitely a go-to for adding fat into a dressing. See my collection of healthy salad dressings for more hints and tips to make them.

Herbs and Seasoning

To amp up the flavors in this Mediterranean Orzo Salad recipe, I used fresh chopped dill and mint. And to give the dressing classic Greek Salad Dressing flavor I used dried oregano. A must in my opinion! Plus the requisite salt and pepper.

Step By Step Instructions To Make This Recipe

On the left: Orzo pasta being cooked in a pan with a metal spoon lifting some out of the pan. On the right: Glass bowl with dressing ingredients being whisked.

Step 1:

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook orzo according to package instructions.

Note: orzo in pasta salad is best when it is fully cooked and not cooked al dente. So taste it before you drain the pasta.

Drain through a fine-mesh sieve and rinse with cold water. Drain thoroughly.

Step 2:

Whisk lemon, garlic, olive oil, dill, mint, oregano, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. 

Left: Orzo pasta with salad dressing in it in a glass bowl and a silver spoon in it. Right: Orzo Pasta salad with tomatoes and cucumbers.

Step 3:

Add the pasta to the dressing and toss to coat. 

Step 4:

Add tomatoes, cucumber, feta, olives and red onion and toss to combine. Serve immediately at room temperature for the best texture and flavor. Of course, if you prefer a cold pasta salad, you can chill it before serving.

Close up of Orzo Pasta Salad in a white bowl on a table with a slice of lemon and a leafy garnish on top.

FAQs and Expert Tips

What do you eat with Greek Orzo Salad?

You can eat Greek Orzo Salad on its own for a healthy lunch, or a light dinner. As a side dish, this Orso Salad will go with any Mediterranean main dish like grilled chicken or shrimp.

Can you use dried mint or dill in place of the fresh herbs?

The fresh herbs really make the flavors pop in this salad. Dried mint has very faint flavor and would not be a good substitute. You can use dried dill weed instead of the fresh dill, use only 2 teaspoons of dried dill.

Can this Greek Orzo Salad be made a day ahead?

You can make this a day ahead but cut and add the cucumber and tomatoes just before serving for the best texture. You may need to add additional olive oil on the second day so taste it to see if it seems a little dry.

Variations To Try

  • Instead of orzo you can use another type of small pasta. Simply weigh out 11 ounces.
  • For a gluten-free option you can substitute cooked quinoa for the orzo.
  • Add in diced cooked chicken and serve as a main course.
  • Use red wine vinegar instead of fresh lemon juice in the dressing.
  • Mix up the fresh vegetables: Try adding diced bell peppers instead of tomatoes. Add in artichoke Hearts or Chopped roasted red peppers with the other veggies. Or use green onion instead of the red onion.

Additional Recipes To Try

Orzo Pasta salad in a white bowl on a table.

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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Description

This Orzo Greek Pasta Salad comes together in 30 minutes and has just a couple easy steps. Simply toss together cooked orzo pasta with a tangy lemon garlic vinaigrette and a generous handful of chopped fresh dill and mint. 



Scale

Ingredients

1 ½ cups dry orzo pasta (about 11 ounces)

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 clove garlic, finely minced

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 ½ teaspoons dried oregano

1 ¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1 cup crumbled feta cheese, preferably reduced fat

½ cup pitted black Greek olives, roughly chopped

½ cup minced red onion


Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain through a fine mesh sieve and rinse with cold water. Drain thoroughly.
  2. Whisk lemon, garlic, olive oil, dill, mint, oregano, salt and pepper in a large bowl. 
  3. Add the pasta and toss to coat. 
  4. Add tomatoes, cucumber, feta, olives and red onion and toss to combine. Serve immediately or chill.

Notes

Cooking The Pasta

Orzo in pasta salad is best when it is fully cooked and not cooked al dente. So taste it before you drain the pasta.

Make Ahead

You can make this a day ahead but cut and add the cucumber and tomatoes just before serving for the best texture. You may need to add additional olive oil on the second day so taste it to see if it seems a little dry.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Scant Cup
  • Calories: 262
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Carbohydrates: 28 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 7 g





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