This Orzo Salad is a burst of freshness in every bite. The juicy cherry tomatoes and crisp cucumbers blend perfectly with the tangy feta cheese. The lemony dressing adds a zesty twist, making it a perfect summer dish.
This Orzo Salad recipe is made with feta and chickpeas. It's a refreshing pasta sald dish perfect for any season. This salad combines the heartiness of pasta with the freshness of vegetables and herbs, topped with the tangy zip of feta cheese.
It’s a perfect recipe for summer months due to its refreshing tastes, but it's equally enjoyable year-round.
What You'll Love About This Recipe
- Simple and Quick to Prepare: With a preparation time of just about 10 minutes, this recipe is perfect for busy days.
- Versatile: It can be customized with various ingredients according to your taste.
- Healthy and Nutritious: Packed with fresh vegetables and healthy fats, it’s a nutritious choice.
- Flavorful: The combination of fresh herbs, tangy cheese, and a zesty dressing creates a burst of flavors.
Orzo Pasta: A small, rice-like pasta that's key to this salad. It's light but still gives you a nice, satisfying feeling. If you can't find orzo, small pasta shapes like ditalini or even couscous can work.
Cherry Tomatoes: These little tomatoes are sweet and add a pop of color. If they’re not in season, sun-dried tomatoes can be a great alternative.
Persian Cucumbers: They are small and have a sweet, mild taste. If you can’t get them, regular cucumbers peeled and seeded will do the trick.
Chickpeas: These add a wonderful texture and a boost of protein. They make the salad more filling and nutritious. You can use canned chickpeas for convenience; just rinse and drain them before adding.
Red Onion: Adds a bit of a zing. If you’re not a fan of raw onion, soak the chopped onion in cold water for a few minutes to soften its sharp taste.
Kalamata Olives: These purple olives are a bit salty and really tasty. You can also try green olives for a different but equally delicious flavor.
Feta Cheese: This crumbly cheese adds a creamy touch. If you prefer, goat cheese or cubed mozzarella are good options too.
Fresh Parsley: It brings a fresh, green flavor. Feel free to mix in other herbs like dill or mint for a different taste.
Dressing Ingredients: Olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice mix to make a simple but flavorful dressing. Fresh garlic, salt, and pepper add the final touch to bring all the flavors together.
- Large Pot for cooking orzo. A medium-sized pot can be used as an alternative.
- Colander for draining the orzo. If unavailable, carefully tilt the lid of the pot to drain water.
- Large Bowl for mixing the salad.
- Small Bowl and Whisk for preparing the dressing. A jar with a lid can be used to shake the dressing ingredients together.
Cooking the Orzo: Start by boiling a pot of water – make sure it's enough to give the orzo plenty of room to move around. Add a pinch of salt for flavor. Once the water is boiling, stir in the orzo pasta.
Check the package for how long to cook it – you're aiming for 'al dente', which means it should be tender but still have a bit of a bite.
Once it's cooked, drain it in a colander and rinse with cold water. This stops the cooking process and keeps the orzo from sticking together.
Preparing the Salad Base: In a large bowl – big enough to mix everything without spilling – add the drained and cooled orzo.
Now, toss in the halved cherry tomatoes, diced Persian cucumbers, chickpeas, finely chopped red onion, sliced kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese. The more evenly you chop your veggies, the better every spoonful of salad will be!
Adding Freshness with Parsley: Chop some fresh parsley – no stems, just the leaves – and sprinkle it over your salad. Parsley adds a fresh, herby taste that really brightens up the dish.
Making the Dressing: In a smaller bowl, let's make the dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and fresh lemon juice. Add the minced garlic – this gives a nice kick. Sprinkle in a bit of salt and pepper. Tasting as you go is a good idea; you can adjust the flavors to your liking.
Bringing It All Together: Pour your freshly made dressing over the salad. Use a spoon or salad tongs to gently toss everything together. Make sure the dressing coats everything nicely. This is where all your flavors start to combine.
Final Seasoning Touches: Give your salad a quick taste. Does it need more zing? If so, add a bit more salt, pepper, or a squeeze of lemon juice. The key is to season it to your liking.
Chill Time: Let your salad have some chill time in the fridge – at least 30 minutes. This wait allows all the delicious flavors to mingle and intensify. Plus, it's extra refreshing when served cool!
Perfectly Cooked Orzo: To get your orzo just right, cook it until it's al dente – tender but still with a slight bite. Be sure to stir occasionally while it cooks to prevent sticking. Rinsing it in cold water after draining stops the cooking process and prevents it from turning mushy.
Balanced Dressing: The dressing is key to this salad's flavor. Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice in the right proportions for a balanced taste. Adjust the garlic, salt, and pepper to suit your palate. Remember, the dressing can make or break your salad, so taste as you go!
Let the Flavors Mingle: Once you've mixed your salad, give it time to sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. This chilling period allows all the ingredients to soak up the dressing and meld together, resulting in a more cohesive and flavorful dish.
- Pasta: Quinoa or couscous can be used as a gluten-free alternative to orzo. But will change the texture of the salad.
- Cheese: Goat cheese or mozzarella can be substituted for feta cheese.
- Vegetables: Feel free to include other vegetables like bell peppers or spinach.
- Protein-Packed: Add grilled chicken, shrimp, or chickpeas for a protein boost.
- Greek-Style: Include capers and roasted red peppers for a Greek twist.
- Creamy Version: Incorporate a dollop of Greek yogurt for a creamier texture.
This Orzo Salad offers a refreshing taste with every spoonful. The combination of ripe, juicy cherry tomatoes and crunchy cucumbers marries well with the sharp taste of tangy feta cheese. Dressed in a lemon-infused vinaigrette, it adds a lively, zesty flavor, making it an ideal choice for a summer meal.
For the Salad
- 1 ½ cups dry orzo pasta
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 Persian cucumbers, diced
- 8 ounces cooked chickpeas
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
- 6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Dressing
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Cook orzo pasta as per package instructions until al dente; rinse in cold water, drain.
- Combine cooked orzo, cherry tomatoes, diced Persian cucumbers, chickpeas, red onion, kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese in a large bowl.
- Add chopped parsley.
- Whisk olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to make dressing.
- Pour dressing over salad, toss gently to mix.
- Adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed.
- Chill salad for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving to enhance
For a more flavorful salad, prepare the dressing ahead of time and let the ingredients meld together before adding to the salad.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 482Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 391mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 6gSugar: 8gProtein: 16g
In the Fridge: Your salad will stay fresh in the fridge for about 3 days. Just keep it in a container with a tight lid.
The Next Day: This salad is great the next day. The flavors have more time to mix and taste even better.
Freezing: It’s best not to freeze this salad. The veggies and pasta won’t have the same nice texture when you thaw them.
Reviving Leftovers: If the salad seems a bit dry the next day, add a splash of olive oil or lemon juice to freshen it up.
Absolutely! It's actually better when made ahead as it allows the flavors to meld. Just prepare it, store it in the fridge, and it's ready to go when you are. Perfect for meal prep or making ahead for a gathering.
Definitely. This salad is very versatile. Try adding bell peppers, artichokes, or roasted vegetables for extra flavor and texture.
Grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu are great protein additions. If you want to keep it plant-based, consider adding more chickpeas or some quinoa.
While homemade dressing is recommended for the best flavor, you can use a bottled Greek or Italian dressing in a pinch.
xperiment with adding different herbs or a touch of honey to the dressing. Adjust the acidity with more or less lemon juice to suit your taste.
Yes, it's perfect for picnics and potlucks! It travels well and can be served at room temperature.
Absolutely! Pine nuts, almonds, or sunflower seeds can add a delightful crunch and extra nutrition.