In need of a light vegetarian lunch, side dish, or dinner? Mediterranean Orzo Pasta Salad is just the colorful, healthy salad recipe for all three jobs! This fresh and easy pasta salad recipe is made with cucumbers, tomatoes & feta cheese, all tossed in a homemade vinaigrette dressing.
An Easy & Flavorful Vegetarian Salad
Now that it’s spring, and we can start dreaming about summer, it’s time to add some warm-weather-worthy meals to the menu plan! One of my personal favorites is this Mediterranean Orzo Pasta Salad. It is the PERFECT vegetarian salad recipe to serve alongside Greek-inspired dinners, or to enjoy as a quick lunch/dinner.
Orzo pasta salad is filled with fresh, crisp vegetables (offering you an opportunity to harvest your spring garden!), crumbled feta cheese, and subtle, tangy lemon flavor from the olive oil salad dressing. Welcome in spring or celebrate summer with this colorful, vibrant, and healthy salad!
If you love this beautiful rainbow vegetable filled dish, make sure to also check out this beautiful Pasta Primavera! We call it Rainbow Pasta with our kiddos. 🙂
What You’ll Need
What are the essential ingredients that go into Mediterranean orzo pasta salad? Good question:
For the Dressing
- Olive Oil: Avocado oil could also be used here, though it will provide a more neutral flavor.
- Vinegar: I used red wine vinegar for this recipe.
- Lemon Juice: You’ll need about ½ a lemon.
- Seasoning: Add in dried oregano, a garlic clove (minced), and salt and pepper (to taste).
For the Pasta Salad
- Pasta: I prefer to use orzo, but other pastas can be used too!
- Cucumber: I used 1 small English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Sliced into halves.
- Onion: I used 1 red onion, sliced.
- Cheese: You’ll need 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese.
- Peppers: Gather 4 baby bell peppers, sliced (or one regular bell pepper).
- Kalamata Olives: Add that classic Mediterranean flavors with some salty Kalamata olives. I like to slice them so you get a little in each bite, but you can also add them whole.
What is Orzo?
Orzo is a short-cut pasta that looks like long-grain rice. It cooks in around half the time, though, and you can eat it hot, cold, or anywhere in between. Orzo is typically made with white flour, but there are gluten-free variations available.
How to Make Mediterranean Orzo Salad
Orzo salad could not be easier to put together. All you need to do is cook the orzo, whisk the salad dressing together, and combine both of those components with the vegetables. After that, just enjoy!
Cook the Orzo According to Package Directions: Drain and set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.
Make the Salad Dressing: Mix all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar. Whisk or shake with lid on vigorously to combine.
Combine: In a large bowl, mix cooled orzo, vegetables, Kalamata olives and cheese. Add about half of the dressing and toss to coat. Keep refrigerated for about 2 to 3 hours and add remaining dressing before serving.
Tips for Success
Read through the following tips for extra help on preparing this delicious orzo salad:
- Stir the Orzo Occasionally: If you just let it cook for the allotted time, it might stick together, so I recommend stirring it occasionally.
- Chop the Vegetables into Bite-Size Pieces: This way the veggies will mix thoroughly with the orzo, and you’ll have a well-balanced plate of pasta and vegetables in each serving.
- Make Ahead Tip: Cook the orzo ahead of time, chop the vegetables, prepare the dressing, and store them in separate containers in the refrigerator. Combine them later when you’re ready to eat the salad.
Orzo pasta salad is a dish that you can make endless substitutions and alterations to! Here are a couple of ideas:
- Pasta Substitutions: You can use just about any type of small pasta – bowties, penne, elbow macaroni, choose your favorite.
- Cheese Substitutions: Fresh mozzarella cut into cubes would be delicious in this. I would stay away from hard cheese, though.
- Vegetable Substitutions: You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. (Avocado, spinach, etc.) This recipe is great for cleaning out the refrigerator. You can even add leftover chicken or pork.
What does Mediterranean orzo salad go with? Pretty much anything! Here are a couple of ideas:
- Greek Recipes: Orzo can pair well with anything from Chicken Gyros to Souvlaki.
- Chicken and other BBQ: Try it with Baked Chicken, grilled pork, or a cut of steak!
- Fish and other Seafood: This orzo pasta salad would go perfectly with something like Parmesan Crusted Salmon!
How to Store Orzo Salad
Keep this orzo salad in an airtight container in the fridge, and eat within 3-4 days.
For the Dressing:
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Pasta Salad:
- 1 cup orzo pasta
- 1 small English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
- ½ red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 4 baby bell peppers, sliced (or one regular bell pepper)
- Cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.
- Mix all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar. Whisk or shake with lid on vigorously to combine.
- In a large bowl, mix cooled orzo, vegetables, Kalamata olives and cheese. Add about half of the dressing and toss to coat. Keep refrigerated for about 2 to 3 hours and add remaining dressing before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 340Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 256mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 7g
More Mediterranean Recipes
Looking for more easy Mediterranean dinner ideas?
- Homemade Falafel
- Greek Chicken Souvlaki
- Greek Salad
- Chicken Gyros
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Homemade Pita Bread
- Tzatziki Sauce
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