Mediterranean Orzo Salad

Mediterranean orzo salad

A pasta salad that’s more salad than pasta? Count me in.

I’ve realized that I’ve been giving you guys a lot of baking recipes. Too much? Maybe not, but I thought I would shake it up and start throwing some more savory stuff your way. Looking for more savory goodness? Check out this quick pasta or this Clam Chowder recipe.

Nap-time Snacks

This week, I took advantage of the baby’s naptime and hopped onto Instagram Live to cook for you. Well, maybe not for you (unfortunately I can’t pass any deliciousness through the screen!) but I shared a quick salad recipe that’s easy to throw together in under 30 minutes. A pasta salad to be more specific. A Mediterranean Orzo Salad. Did you watch? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below! If you missed it, make sure to give it a peek and share if you like!

If you missed Nap-time Snacks last week, no worries! I’ll be hopping on again this Friday at 2pm to cook another recipe for you. Get notified by Instagram that I’m on by going to @let.them.eat.cake_mel and clicking on the little bell in the top right hand corner. Then, tap all the toggles or just on Live Videos and tap “Get All Notifications”. Instagram will let you know I’m on and you can hop in! I love chatting with y’all, it makes it way more fun.

Lipper International Acacia Oblong Salad Servers, 12″ Long, One Pair

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

This Mediterranean Orzo Salad is a fun recipe that’s totally customizable. Cucumbers give you tummy troubles? Swap it out for zucchini. Don’t love feta cheese? Try it with crumbly goat cheese. The pasta can be switched out for fusilli, penne or whatever you have in the cabinet. Even the vinegar in the dressing can be swapped out to whatever you find hiding in the back of the pantry.

Stainless Steel Colander With Handle and Legs, Large Metal Green Strainer for Pasta, Spaghetti, Berry, Veggies, Fruits, Noodles, Salads, 5-quart 10.5” Kitchen Food Mesh Colander, Dishwasher Safe

Aside from versatility, the Mediterranean Orzo Salad is a crowd pleaser. Everyone (that I know) loves pasta salad and this one is especially popular because of how light it is. It’s made up of mostly arugula, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and olives, so you don’t have to feel guilty about a second plate. The orzo is there to add a little more oomph to the dish and the lemon zest balances it all out. This would also definitely work as a BYO dish to your next Covid-safe BBQ. I’ll be serving it at my daughter’s first birthday party in May, that’s for sure! (More on that to come; I’m secretly panicking that she’s already a year old!)

Cuisinart CSB-179 Smart Stick Hand Blender, 2019, Stainless Steel

Chef Tips:

  • The key to a pasta salad that stands out? Make your own vinaigrette. It takes 30 seconds with common pantry staples and is a distinct difference to the store bought stuff.
  • After you’ve cooked the pasta, run it through cold water in the strainer to ensure it doesn’t overcook and stick together. Overcooked pasta will break when you try to toss it through with the rest of the ingredients. Toss the cooled pasta with extra virgin olive oil until you’re ready to combine.
  • Making this a day ahead will really give the salad time to marinate in the dressing. If you have time to do this, make sure to hold back the arugula and cheese until just before serving. While the pasta and veggies will build flavor from the vinaigrette overnight, the arugula will wilt down to a sad and unappetizing little leaf.
  • Mix and match your tender herbs to your preference. I used mint and parsley here but dill would also be delightful here!

Cheers!

Print
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Mediterranean orzo salad

Mediterranean Orzo Salad


  • Author: Melissa-Smith
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 812 servings as a side dish 1x

Description

A tasty little salad perfect for a crowd. Loaded with cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and  arugula, it’s more salad than pasta, so no guilt needed! Zesty lemon gives a beautiful lightness to the salad for a perfect springtime side dish.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 ounces orzo pasta
  • 2 small Persian cucumbers, diced
  • 45 small tomatoes, diced (I like the tomatoes on the vine but any tomatoes will do)
  • 1/2 small red pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, diced
  • 1/2 cup tender herbs, finely chopped (mint, parsley, dill – any combination)
  • 2 handfuls fresh arugula
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese

Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 34 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (1 Tablespoon of fresh)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

 


Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions in heavily salted water.
  2. Drain the pasta in a fine mesh strainer, then run under cold water until no longer hot. Toss with extra virgin olive oil and chill while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. 
  3. Prepare the dressing by combining the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic clove, oregano, salt and pepper in measuring cup. Using a hand blender, buzz the ingredients until smooth. Alternatively, finely chop the garlic and whisk everything but the olive oil together in a small bowl. Once combined, continue to whisk while streaming in the olive oil. This will emulsify and prevent the dressing from separating.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, cucumbers, tomatoes, red pepper, red onion, Kalamata olives and herbs. Toss to combine. 
  5. Add the arugula with the vinaigrette. Toss to combine.
  6. Add the feta cheese, lemon zest and black pepper to taste and gently stir together.
  7. Serve immediately with additional black pepper.

Notes

The salad is best made a day ahead and allowed to marinate overnight. If you do make it ahead, be sure to hold back on the arugula and cheese and toss it in right before serving.

  • Category: Salad
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Keywords: salad, recipe, spring recipes, summer BBQ, side dish, pasta salad, lemon, olives, vegetables, easy salad recipe, easy side dish, quick lunch

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2 Comments

  1. As soon as I saw the first picture of this pasta salad I said to myself – yes please!! Not only is this a beautiful salad, but you used the perfect combination of ingredients specially the light flavor of lemon juice that it works well with rich salad dressings and gives zesty flavor on this pasta salad! This is something I could totally eat every single day and don’t get bored!! Thanks for sharing this healthy salad recipe!
    Maria shephered recently posted…The Ultimate Guide to Flavored Olive Oils for Dressing and CookingMy Profile

    1. You are absolutely right, I could eat this everyday as well! Thanks for reading!

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