This orzo salad recipe is just what you need for those summertime barbecues and picnics! It has a robust flavor because of the inclusion of feta cheese, olives, and a zesty Greek dressing.
Make this orzo salad recipe this weekend if you find yourself in need of a side dish for a picnic or barbecue at the last minute. It is crisp and full of flavor, simple to put together, and, just as a good picnic salad should be, it is ideal for making ahead of time. You can toss it up anywhere from a few hours to a day before a summer get-together, and it will still taste fantastic when it’s time to eat it.
But you should still keep this recipe for orzo salad in your back pocket even if you aren’t planning on having a picnic this weekend (or if your meal is all planned out and ready to go). This is an excellent recipe to carry for lunch because it stays fresh for a long time.
The briny olives and salty, acidic feta cheese create a harmonious balance with the crisp cucumbers and luscious tomatoes. The orzo pasta and chickpeas give it a lovely texture and make it easy to eat, and a zesty Greek dressing brings everything together. Delicious.
Orzo Salad Recipe Ingredients
To create this orzo pasta salad dish, you will need the following ingredients:
Orzo, without a doubt! I really like how well this little shape of pasta blends in and combines with the other components of the dish.
Cherry tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes offer flavor explosions that are both sweet and juicy.
Persian cucumbers – Cucumbers from Persia provide the dish with a crisp, chilly, and reviving taste.
Red onion – Chop these up as thinly as you can get away with. If you have access to a mandoline, I strongly suggest making use of it!
Kalamata olives – Kalamata olives have a flavor that is saline and salty, which provides a contrast to the other ingredients, which are fresh herbs, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
Feta cheese – For this recipe, you do not need to use pre-crumbled feta. Instead, search for feta that is sold in blocks, and try to find one that is brined. Both the taste and the consistency of it are a huge step up. You won’t ever have access to the crumbled variety again!
Chickpeas – The combination of chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, with Mediterranean foods such as feta cheese and olives is one of my favorites, which is why I couldn’t resist adding them to this orzo salad. In addition to that, they make it more solid.
Greek salad dressing – With this orzo salad, I make the dressing extra-bright by whisking in an additional tablespoon of red wine vinegar and a large squeeze of lemon juice. The result is a Greek salad dressing with a lot of zip.
Fresh mint and/or basil – Pick just one, or use a mix.
And sea salt and fresh black pepper – To make all the flavors pop!
As the orzo is cooking, you may chop the vegetables, feta, and olives into bite-sized pieces.
After that, mix up the dressing, and finally, toss everything together. The preparation of this orzo salad requires no more effort than that!
Orzo Salad Recipe Tips
Cook the pasta a little past al dente. When I create a pasta salad, I cook the pasta until it is just slightly past al dente. This ensures that the pasta will remain tender even after it has been refrigerated.
And let it cool before you add the veggies. If you mix the warm orzo with the tomato, cucumber, and onion, the vegetables will start to lose their crispness. Instead, when the orzo has been cooked and drained, it should be dressed with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together, and then it should be spread out in an even layer on a large baking sheet to cool. Once it has returned to room temperature, you can continue with the recipe.
Make it ahead. This orzo salad dish can be prepared up to a day in advance; however, the herbs should be kept separate until just before serving. Because they will get limp if they are allowed to remain in the dressing for an extended period of time, it is better to mix them in just before you start eating the salad. While stored in the refrigerator, the salad could get a little drier. When you serve it, give it a few drizzles of olive oil to loosen it up if you feel like it might use a little more moisture.
Orzo Salad Serving Suggestions
This recipe for orzo salad is an excellent option for a side dish to bring to summer barbecues and picnics. Combine it with other barbecue sides such as grilled corn on the cob or grilled vegetables, broccoli salad, potato salad, or coleslaw, if you want.
- 1½ cups dry orzo pasta
- 1 recipe Greek Salad Dressing
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 Persian cucumbers, halved vertically and sliced ¼-inch thick
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 4 ounces feta cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 cup fresh basil and/or mint leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Start the cooking process by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. To cook the pasta, follow the instructions on the package and cook it until it is barely past the al dente stage. When it has been drained, the orzo should be tossed with a small amount of olive oil so that it does not clump together. To allow it to cool, spread it out on a baking sheet.
- To make the dressing for the Greek salad, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and oregano in a bowl. Season with salt.
- Mix the cooked orzo, cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas, feta, red onion, and olives together in a large bowl until everything is well distributed. After drizzling the dressing over the salad, adding half of the chopped herbs, and seasoning it with freshly ground black pepper, toss the salad to coat it. Serve with the garnish consisting of the remaining herbs.
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