If you’re looking for a crowd pleasing side dish that is perfect for summer bbqs, meal prep, date nights, and picnics then I’ve got just the recipe for you this summer. You will simply love this absolutely delicious Mediterranean orzo salad, packed with fresh vegetables like cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and finished with a simple zippy vinaigrette dressing that adds that perfect balance!
You may have had different variations of orzo pasta salad before, but this one is so good, it reigns supreme in the orzo salad arena! What makes this orzo salad Mediterranean is it’s salty, crunchy, and fresh flavors, reminiscent of an al fresco enjoyed along the coast of Greece. You will undoubtedly be tempted to eat it all summer long and best of all, it requires very little use of the stove, ideal for hotter months.
A main course or side dish – you choose!
This Mediterranean orzo pasta salad is an excellent accompaniment to grilled chicken, fish, burgers, and can be customized to be vegan by omitting the feta cheese or using a vegan version.
Gluten-free? No problem. Simply sub in gluten-free orzo for the same incredibly tasty results.
This super easy orzo salad is inspired by my mediterranean salad which uses fresh ingredients found in the grocery or farmers market all summer long. If you love the simplicity of pasta salads, try this Greek orzo salad for a unique twist on the classic macaroni salad.
You’ll love the fresh and healthy flavors so much that you may find yourself making it on repeat all summer long for any occasion or day of the week!!
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- It’s very customizable
- It’s a healthy side or main when you add protein
- You don’t need a lot of ingredients to make it
- Perfect for bringing along to a picnic or BBQ
How to Make this Recipe
Place all the ingredients in bowl.
Toss then drizzle with vinaigrette. Done. Enjoy!
Cook the orzo to a slightly al dente texture so that it doesn’t become to soft. While it cools down, the orzo may continue to cook a little bit, which can lead to a mushy orzo salad. Add a little extra virgin olive oil to the orzo pasta after cooking to prevent it from sticking together.
What to Serve with your Mediterranean orzo salad
This inspired Greek orzo salad recipe is filling enough to eat on its own, but is also perfect accompanied with some other sides or a piece of protein and a refreshing drink on a beautiful summer day.
Sides and Mains
- BBQ pulled lamb – what goes better with pasta salad than bbq? This bbq pulled lamb is great on it’s own or on a bun or potato roll served with pickled and red cabbage slaw.
- Leftover turkey tacos – these unique tacos are a twist on the traditional ground beef tacos you are used to having on Taco Tuesday. Using leftover turkey instead, make meal prep even easier along with this healthy orzo pasta salad.
- Pan fried garlic butter prawns – garlicky and packed with flavor, these prawns are super quick to prepare and a great choice for a summer night along with this crunchy orzo salad recipe.
- Grilled sausages, chicken, steak, or veggies – simply marinade protein or vegetables before throwing them on the grill to enjoy for a quick dinner along with this orzo salad.
- Sloe gin fizz – this refreshing gin fizz is fruity and zesty all at once, making it a easy to enjoy along with most meals.
- Long vodka cocktail – with only a few ingredients, this summery cocktail is the perfect accompaniment to this summertime orzo salad.
- Long beach iced tea – this cousin to the Long Island iced tea is boozy and deilcious, using cranberry juice instead of cola. You won’t regret eating some orzo salad before enjoying a few of these cocktails.
- Gin and ginger beer cocktail – citrus, mint, and gin come together for an ideal summer drink that is just delightful on a hot summer night.
Popular Substitutions for this Recipe
Instead of balsamic vinegar in your orzo salad recipe, use red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice as a substitute. Red wine vinegar is fruitier and slightly more robust than the sweeter balsamic vinegar, giving your orzo salad Mediterranean flavor.
Using lemon juice will also create a delicious lemon dressing for your Mediterranean orzo salad that is slightly sour, citrusy, vibrant, and bright. Add some lemon zest to up the fresh flavor in your dressing.
Replace salty and creamy feta cheese with goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, or parmesan cheese.
Replace regular whole durum flour or whole wheat semolina flour based orzo with gluten-free orzo to make this recipe friendly for your gluten-free friends. You can usually find a few brands of gluten-free orzo in the pasta aisle.
Replace kalamata olives with briny capers, or use them in addition to for extra salt and flavor, especially great for balance when you use lemon juice in your mediterranean orzo salad.
Opt for pepper and sea salt
Use freshly ground black pepper and sea salt instead of regular table salt and pepper that is pre-ground for the best and most robust flavor for this orzo salad recipe.
Variations to this Recipe
- Add additional herbs like fresh mint, fresh parsley, fresh dill, or even fresh oregano to your pasta salad. The more fresh herbs you add, the more outstanding flavor you’ll have, especially paired with fresh lemon juice and zest in your dressing for pure summertime flavor. You can also use a combination of fresh herbs and dried herbs in this orzo salad recipe if that’s what you have available to you.
- In addition to the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, briny olives, red pepper, and garbanzo beans add any raw crunchy vegetables, beans, or meat you like to this Greek orzo salad. Grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp, or salami would all pair very well added to this orzo pasta salad to make it a complete meal.
Use a high quality olive oil for best results with flavor and consistency of your orzo pasta salad. Using cold pressed extra virgin olive oil has the best flavor and health benefits for cold salads and to use as a finishing oil.
How do I store leftovers?
Store leftover orzo salad in an airtight glass or plastic container in the refrigerator.
How long will this food last in the fridge?
This food is best if eaten within four to five days of making. The fresh herbs and vegetables are best eaten within a few days for best crunch and freshness, otherwise they will become soggy and lose some of their flavor.
Can this recipe be made in advance?
Yes, you can make this recipe in advance. I recommend making it no more than one day ahead of time if bringing to a party or enjoying it for the first time. Time will allow the dressing to soak into all of the ingredients, making it super flavorful, but overtime the veggies and herbs can wilt and become soggy, making it less appealing and crunchy.
Can this recipe be scaled?
Yes, you can make a large batch of this orzo pasta salad for meal prep or a large event. Just multiply the recipes by two or three and make sure you have plenty of large bowls for mixing!
Can I freeze this recipe?
Yes, but very carefully. You can freeze cooked al dente orzo along with the vinaigrette dressing for around four months. I don’t recommend freezing a cold orzo pasta salad like this one with all of the ingredients such as cheese, cucumber, and tomato.
While a hot pasta dish can be thawed and then heated up in the oven or microwave, cold pasta salad with fresh vegetables and herbs may become mushy and the veggies will lose flavor and crunch if frozen.
How do I thaw this dish?
If you choose to freeze your dressed orzo salad, simply pull it out of the freezer and defrost it overnight in the refrigerator. Add your fresh herbs and vegetables once the recipe has completely thawed and enjoy!
Other Pasta Recipes You’ll Love
- Classic macaroni salad – creamy and tangy, this classic macaroni salad is another customizable recipe that is a crowd pleaser. Make this “everything but the kitchen sink” recipe for a side at your next bbq.
- Chicken and leek pasta bake – this wintertime dish is comforting and satisfying. Sauteed leeks combined with white wine, chicken, stock and cream, then added to pasta and baked with cheese and breadcrumbs. Decadent, yet simple and delicious.
- Cajun chicken pasta – a cajun chicken pasta that is slightly spicy with a smokey flavor from a homemade cajun spice blend. Red and green peppers plus onion and celery make up the holy trinity of most cajun cooking, plus a splash of cream to bring it all together. This pasta dish is perfect for cajun food lovers!!
- Bolognese pasta bake – classic bolognese in a pasta bake format with plenty of cheese makes for the perfect dish with plenty of leftovers for the week ahead.
- Chicken pesto pasta – extra juicy skin-on brined chicken is served up with homemade pesto, tomatoes, and pasta. Enjoy this classic combination that represents the colors of the Italian flag.
Perfect for summer BBQs, meal prep, date nights, and picnics, this Mediterranean Orzo Salad can be used as a side dish or tasty main.
- 500g (2½ cups) dry orzo
- 250g (1½ cups) cherry tomatoes
- 200g (1 cup) kalamata olives
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 240g (1 cup) cooked chickpeas
- 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- ½ cucumber, cut into thin quartered slices
- 200g (1¼ cup) feta cheese, crumbled
- 30ml (2 tbsp) balsamic vinegar
- 90ml (6 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- basil leaves, for garnishing
- Cook the orzo according to package instructions, which should take around 10 minutes to boil. Drain and set aside to cool down while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Place the tomatoes, olives, red pepper, chickpeas, onion and cucumber in a large salad bowl and mix.
- Stir in the cooked orzo then the feta cheese.
- Just before serving, place the vinegar and oil in a jar, then shake well. Season to taste then drizzle over the salad and give it a stir.
- Garnish with basil and serve immediately. Enjoy!
- Feel free to play around with the ratios of the different ingredients. You can even add or omit ingredients as you please.
- To bulk up the meal even more, you can add grilled salmon or chicken to turn this dish into a decent dinner.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Salad
- Method: Boil
- Cuisine: Greek
Keywords: orzo salad, risoni salad, orzo salad feta, easy orzo salad for a crowd, best orzo salad, italian orzo salad, mediterranean orzo salad, vegetarian orzo salad, orzo recipe