A summer orzo salad to make again and again! This Greek orzo salad recipe highlights the season’s freshest veggies, with a snappy Greek dressing that ties all the flavors together. Versatile and delicious, this recipe is vegetarian and easily vegan.
A Greek Pasta Salad You’ll Make Over and Over Again
The freshest summer veggies dazzle in this easy to make Greek orzo recipe. I’ve been making this easy pasta salad on repeat over the past month thanks in part to our cucumber and cherry tomatoes that have taken off in the garden.
For summer, this is one of the best orzo salad recipes I have in my repertoire. It’s easy to make with a relatively short list of fresh ingredients, has loads of flavor, is make ahead ready and a crowd pleaser.
We love this pasta salad recipe for lunch, but it’s also tasty as a side. And, if you’re eyein’ this orzo Greek salad as a main, that’s easy to do! Keep reading to find out how.
Quick Guide: How to Make Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
A technique I learned from Ina Garten when prepping orzo is to toast it first. It brings out the pasta’s nutty notes, elevating the flavor of any recipe it’s used in. I include this technique in my popular lemon orzo pasta salad and roasted veggie lemon garlic orzo pasta recipe. It only takes about three minutes and is worth the effort. Then, while the orzo is cooking, you can prep the veggies.
Overlap in cooking the orzo and prep means this Greek salad with orzo is ready in about 35ish minutes total hands on time. In summary, here’s how to make this scrumptious salad (see recipe card for details):
- First, toast the orzo in a skillet, then pour in the veggie broth. Cook the orzo until al dente, then chill it.
- Second, whip up the lemon, olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing.
- Third, chop the tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and kalamata olives.
- Next, toss the pasta, dressing, veggies and feta cheese together in a large mixing bowl.
- Last, add some chopped fresh basil, and ground black pepper.
Allow the recipe to set at least 30 minutes at room temperature before sharing so that the pasta can soak up the dressing and the flavors marry.
Hang on to those cucumber seeds and their juices. They’re nutritious and perfect in a green smoothie!
PRO TIP: If the red onion has a sharp taste, you can soak it, sliced, in ice water for about 10 minutes prior to adding them to your salad. This mellows their flavor yet retains crunch!
Variations on Greek Pasta Salad with Orzo
As is, this salad is considered Greek. However there are some fabulous additions if you want to lean towards a more mediterranean style orzo salad with feta. Adding chickpeas makes this a hearty summer salad main. Share with slabs of grilled sourdough.
- Chickpeas: For a protein rich and hearty Greek orzo salad with chickpeas, add about 2 C cooked chickpeas. If using canned, drain and rinse the beans before adding them to the salad. Taste for salt.
- Chopped Spinach: I love adding greens to pasta salads and chopped spinach is fabulous in this recipe! Include about 3-4 C packed to make it a Greek orzo salad with spinach and feta. Simply chop or slice the spinach into ribbons.
- Artichoke Hearts: For added texture, flavor and bulk, try adding about 2 C chopped artichoke hearts. If marinated, give the artichokes a good rinse before adding to the salad.
Love Greek flavors? Give my Greek Pita Sandwiches a go!
A Few Recipe Notes
- Olives: look for pitted kalamata olives. This will save some time during prep.
- Feta: there are many to choose from! I like sheep’s milk feta in Greek orzo salad, as it tends to be sharper and creamier than cow’s milk feta. It’s also a classic choice for Greek salads. I like Mt. Vikos brand which is a blend of sheep and goat milk.
- Make ahead ready? Yes please! This recipe can be made up to two days in advance for freshest appearance. It’s quite tasty however, for up to four days.
- Gluten Free? This recipe can be made gluten free by substituting your favorite gluten free pasta. I’ve attempted the toasting method using cassava orzo but it ultimately made the orzo too mushy. If using gluten free pasta, cook according to package directions and proceed with the recipe.
- Make it Vegan: omit the feta and include a favorite vegan feta.
More Orzo Recipes to Love
- Lemon Garlic Orzo with Roasted Veggies
- Creamy White Bean and Mushroom Orzo Pasta
- Lemon Orzo Salad with Spinach and Feta
Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
For the Dressing:
For the Salad:
- 2 lb (900g) Cherry Tomatoes sliced in half, about 2 pints
- 1 lb (450g) Cucumber garden or Kerby, sliced lengthwise, seeds scraped, cut into chunks.
- 1 1/2 C (150g) Red Onion sliced in 1/2 moons, larger pieces cut in half. about 3/4 of a large onion
- 1 1/2 C (230g) Kalamata Olives pitted, sliced in half or quartered
- 3/4 C (170g) Feta Cheese crumbled
- Fresh Basil about a small handful, torn into pieces
- Fresh Ground Black Pepper
For the Orzo:
- In a large saute pan, heat 1 Tbs of olive oil on medium heat until shimmering. Add the orzo and stir, coating the orzo thoroughly. Stir occasionally for about 3 minutes or until the orzo is toasty and golden. Pour in the vegetable broth. Be careful here because the broth will spit and sputter. Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat to low, cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for about five minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in 3 Tbs of the dressing (see below). Rest the salad in the fridge while you finish preparing the veggies.
For the Dressing:
- In a lidded jar or small bowl shake/whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper until an emulsion forms. Set aside.
Put the Salad Together:
- To the large mixing bowl with the orzo, add the tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, olives, feta and basil. Add a few twists of fresh ground pepper. Pour the remaining dressing over the salad and gently toss. Taste for salt and add more basil to taste. Allow the salad to rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving if possible. This will allow the flavors to marry and/or fats to soften if previously in the fridge.
- Store in a lidded container for up to four days. This salad is freshest in appearance and cucumber crunch however, for up to two days.