Orzo Salad is an easy pasta salad with plenty of protein and a zesty dressing. A classic Italian side with orzo pasta, grape tomatoes, basil, and mint.
Orzo Pasta Salad is an easy side dish that makes an unexpected addition to any meal. Using orzo pasta is a way to make pasta salad that a lot of people haven’t tried. Add in the rich ingredients like tomatoes, onions, garbanzo beans, fresh herbs, and a vinaigrette dressing, and this might be the best pasta salad around!
Orzo Pasta Salad is sure to become a go-to recipe for potlucks and family get-togethers. It’s easy to make-ahead and the salad only takes a few minutes to make. Orzo Pasta Salad is the perfect side dish for the next time you make a big Italian dinner. Try this salad with Italian Turkey Meatloaf, Healthier Beef Ragu, or any other of your favorite dishes.
If you aren’t familiar with orzo, it’s a short-grain pasta traditionally made with white flour. It’s sometimes referred to as risoni. Cook the pasta until al dente and enjoy it in this classic Mediterranean Orzo Salad. You can also exchange the orzo for gluten-free orzo in your Orzo Salad recipe. Gluten-free orzo is fairly easy to find in grocery stores.
Italian Orzo Pasta is so healthy. The garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) add plenty of fiber and protein to the dish. Along with that, there are nutritious veggies like onions and tomatoes. Unlike so many salads made with pasta, this one doesn’t have a heavy dressing. Instead, it’s made with just olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, honey and some pepper. The lemon and honey add surprising sour and sweet notes that play off each other in this olive oil based dressing.
Another benefit to Italian Orzo Salad, is that you can change up the ingredients if you don’t have what the recipe calls for. For example, it’s easy to use cherry tomatoes instead of grape tomatoes because cherry tomatoes are so similar. You can also make simple additions like artichoke hearts, and feta cheese Find lots of other variation ideas for this salad below.
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VARIATIONS ON ORZO SALAD
- Vegetable add-ins: There are so many crunchy veggies you can chop up to toss in this salad. Cucumber is a classic ingredient in most Mediterranean Orzo Salads. Along with cucumber you can also add artichoke, spinach, bell peppers, green onions and Kalamata olives. Add some Roasted red peppers for their sweet flavor and subtle spice. Mix in the artichoke, chopped bell peppers, red peppers, and any other veggies you like with the orzo and red onion before the olive oil dressing. Wait to toss spinach with the pasta until right before serving, so the spinach leaves don’t become soggy.
- More add-ins: There are plenty of additions you can make to this pasta recipe apart from vegetables. Try crumbling feta over the salad before serving. Feta cheese is a classic addition to this Mediterranean dish. Apart from feta, you can add some more protein to the recipe with some chopped grilled chicken. Adding grilled chicken and feta is especially good to make it more filling if you want to serve Orzo Pasta Salad as a main dish.
- Salad dressing changes: Try changing up the light salad dressing with some extra fresh herbs. Some great ones to try are parsley, rosemary, and oregano. If you use fresh sprigs of parsley, finely mince the parsley or other herbs before adding them to the wine vinegar dressing.
WHAT TO SERVE ORZO SALAD WITH
HOW TO STORE ORZO SALAD
- Serve: To keep Orzo Salad as fresh as possible, don’t leave it out at room temperature for more than a couple hours.
- Store: To best store Orzo Salad, keep the salad separate from the dressing. This Orzo Salad recipe can last 3-5 days when refrigerated properly.
- Freeze: Orzo Salad will last well in the freezer for up to 2 months. For the freshest taste wait to add the dressing until serving.
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups orzo
- 15 ounces chickpeas , (one can,) drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes , halved
- 1/2 large red onion , diced
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves , chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves , chopped
Red Wine Vinaigrette:
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Boil the chicken broth in a large sauce pan on high heat. Add the orzo and cook 6-8 minutes until only slightly firm, then drain through a strainer.
- Add the orzo to a large bowl with chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, basil, and mint.
- Add the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper to a blender. Run the blender while gradually adding in the oil.
- Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and mix well.