Orzo Pasta Salad

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A Mediterranean inspired orzo pasta salad with fresh cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, sweet corn, parsley, feta cheese, and a delicious lemon dressing.

Serve this as a main dish salad or with grilled chicken or grilled steak on the side!

Overhead image of the ready to eat orzo pasta salad in a bowl with spoons in it

Orzo pasta salad

This orzo pasta salad is fresh, light, flavorful, and healthy. It’s the perfect dish for when the weather is hot outside and you need something that won’t heat up the kitchen! It’s also one of those dishes you’ll feel great after eating thanks to the fresh garden vegetables and vibrant lemon vinaigrette.

Process shot-- overhead image of all the salad ingredients in a bowl ready to be mixed for this orzo pasta salad

Difference between orzo and risoni

Although orzo looks a bit like rice, it’s not a grain. Orzo is a type of short cut pasta that looks like larger grains of rice. It also goes by the name “risoni

Orzo can be found on the pasta aisle of most grocery stores.

How to use orzo

Orzo is prepared just like most pasta — boiled in salted water! For this pasta salad, we boil it until al dente and then drain it. Once its cooled to room temperature it’s ready to be added into this lemon orzo pasta salad.

Overhead image of the lemon dressing

Orzo pasta salad variations

  • Italian orzo pasta salad: for more of an Italian flavor, use the dressing in this Italian garbanzo bean salad.
  • Orzo pasta salad with mozzarella: replace the feta cheese in this recipe with mozzarella! Either cube a block into small pieces or use small mozzarella pearls.
  • Add some protein: add a can of chickpeas (drained) to this salad. Another great protein addition would be some grilled chicken or steak OR chopped up pepperoni or salami.
  • Orzo salad for a crowd: this recipe easily doubles or triples for a large group.
  • Add some fresh herbs: in addition to the parsley, add in some fresh basil

How long does orzo salad last in the fridge?

This salad can last 3-5 days in the fridge as long as it’s stored separately from the dressing.
 
If making this orzo pasta salad to enjoy throughout the week, make sure to separate the actual salad from the dressing and add dressing only to the portions you’ll be enjoying. Note that the longer this salad sits, the more intense the flavors become — the rest of the salad really takes on the flavor of the olives and red onions. While not necessarily bad, I do prefer this salad best the first day it’s made.

Image of the dressing being poured over the ingredients for this orzo pasta salad with feta

More delicious salads:

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Orzo Pasta Salad

5 from 9 votes
A Mediterranean inspired orzo pasta salad with fresh cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, sweet corn, parsley, feta cheese, and a delicious lemon dressing.
Print Recipe

Orzo Pasta Salad

5 from 9 votes
A Mediterranean inspired orzo pasta salad with fresh cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, sweet corn, parsley, feta cheese, and a delicious lemon dressing.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword orzo pasta salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Total Time 29 minutes
Servings 6 servings, as a side
Calories 416kcal
Cost $7.35

Ingredients

Salad

  • 12 ounces orzo pasta
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (1 pint) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (1 pint) yellow grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 3/4 cups kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 and 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (and more for topping if desired)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion (Note 1)
  • 2 ears fresh sweet corn
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dressing

  • 1 large lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar

Instructions

  • DRESSING: start with the dressing so the flavors have time to meld and intensify. Zest a lemon to get 2 teaspoons zest. Juice the lemon to get 3 tablespoons juice. Place zest and juice in a large mason jar. Add the olive oil, garlic, dijon mustard, and sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Put the lid on the jar. Shake to combine. Place in the fridge while preparing the salad.
  • SALAD: Bring a pot of water to a boil, generously salt the water, and cook the orzo according to the package directions. Drain and let cool. Rinse under cold water and then allow to dry thoroughly.
  • VEGGIES: Meanwhile, prep the veggies. Halve the tomatoes, halve the olives, finely dice the red onion (Note 1), finely dice the parsley. Add all the veggies to a large bowl. Add in the feta cheese. IF desired, grill corn (Note 2). Cut the kernels from the cob (you don't have to cook the corn, you can add it in raw too for a nice crunch!). Pour dressing over salad and toss. Taste and season as needed with additional salt and/or pepper. Store in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour before serving. Toss right before serving. Salad best enjoyed the same day it is made.

Recipe Notes

Note 1:ย to take away the "bite" of the red onion, soak the diced onions in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly before adding.
Note 2: Preheat a grill to medium high heat, around 400 degrees F. Once hot, clean the grill grates. Remove the husks and silk from the corn. Pour about 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil on each corn cob and rub that oil into all the sides. Very lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides of the corn. Place corn on grill grates (nothing needs to go down first/don't wrap in foil) and close grill. Allow to cook (temps remaining at 400F) for about 3 minutes per side undisturbed. Using tongs, rotate and continue cooking, for about 12 minutes total. When all sides are browned, remove from the grill onto a plate.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 416kcal

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Nutrition facts in orzo pasta salad

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26 Comments

  1. Well as you know I’m also experiencing warm weather but I’ll be headed to the States soon so I’m trying to prepare myself for the cold! This dish – loving the flavours. I’m a basil addict (cue dinner last night consisting of a lot of basil) and I would love this!

  2. Chelsea, I am the same way. I still check the weather every day back home in Ohio (before flipping to Florida to see whether I will be wearing shorts or jeans today!). Where were you in OH? The no sun comment makes me think it had to be in the northern part- I felt like i didn’t seen sun for like half the year! I miss the cold a little bit- purely because I grew up with it and its a little odd to be somewhere sunny and relatively warm everyday. This looks like a great side dish- and I have a ton of basil outside too!

  3. 5 stars
    In Canada, We’ve been suffering under extreme cold weather this year and for this reason I’ve been missing Brazil (the country I am originally from) more than usually. Hopefully spring is coming soon and then I can make this delicious dish ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I still check the weather app where we used to live too ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s been really cold this winter so this colorful pasta dish is the perfect way to sneak in some sunshine. It looks incredible and I love all the fresh flavors!

    1. Thank you Jessica! That’s definitely one of the best parts, how simple it is! I’m glad you enjoyed!!

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