Mediterranean Orzo Salad is the perfect side dish for your summer cook out, or a great meal prep for healthy lunches! Served warm or cold and loaded with tomato, kalamata olives, artichokes, chickpeas, feta cheese and lots of greens! Healthy fresh and colorful, it’s sure to become your go-to side dish year round!
Summer’s Perfect Simple Side Dish
Mediterranean Orzo Salad is a summer grilling favorite! It goes with everything – grilled sausages, burgers, brats, chicken, kabobs, or fish. It’s great to bring to a cabin weekend, a friend’s barbecue, any family backyard party or just for a simple weeknight dinner side at home. The recipe serves 6 so extras are a great meal prep for easy lunches! The dressing is a simple vinaigrette, so you don’t need to worry about mayo sitting out. Full of veggies, packed with protein from the chickpeas, and so easy to throw together in just 25 minutes! Beautifully colorful, and lots of summer fresh flavor, this is sure to become a favorite!
Instructions & Substitutions
I start this recipe with the pine nuts. This saves you some extra pan clean up. In the pan that you are going to boil the pasta, first toast the pine nuts over medium heat. This just takes a couple minutes so watch them and don’t let them burn! Remove them to a bowl, then use the same pot to set water to boil for the orzo. Cook orzo for 7 minutes in boiling salted water and drain.
While the pasta cooks, you can chop and prep your veggies. Add all ingredients to a large bowl. The dressing for this salad is simply fresh lemon juice and olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. Whisk it together in a little dish with a fork. This salad can be served warm or cold. If serving warm, add the drained hot orzo to the bowl of ingredients and toss well along with the dressing. If serving cold, you could run the orzo under cold water before draining, or just toss it hot and cool it in the fridge.
Orzo Salad can be made in advance and kept in the fridge a few days. If you do this, you may want to give it another toss with an extra squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil before serving, just to waken it up a bit. Mediterranean Orzo Salad is easily substituted to fit your likes! Don’t like olives, leave them out! Any ingredient can be omitted and extras could be substituted like cucumber, jarred peppers or giardiniera, capers, or sliced meats like prosciutto or pepperoni. Hearty and filling, yet fresh and light, it’s perfect for Memorial Day or the 4th. Orzo salad is sure to answer the question, “What should I bring?”
More Favorite Side Dishes!
- Broccoli Salad
- White Bean Bruschetta
- Avocado Bean Dip
- Roasted Carrot Hummus
- Best Ever Guacamole
- Kid Friendly Dinner Sides
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
- ¼ c toasted pine nuts
- 1½ c orzo pasta
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas
- 1 c grape tomato left whole or sliced in half
- ½ c kalamata olives
- ½ c artichokes quartered (canned or jar)
- ½ bell pepper, sliced (or a few slices of red onion, or both)
- ½ c feta cheese
- ¼ c fresh chopped herbs such as basil, scallions, parsley, or chives
- 1 handful arugula or spinach
- 2 T fresh lemon juice (half a lemon squeezed) plus lemon wedges to garnish
- 3 T olive oil
- ½ t kosher salt
- 8 grinds fresh ground pepper
- In the pot you plain to boil the orzo, first toast the dry pine nuts over medium heat while watching and stirring a few minutes until golden brown. Reserve in a small bowl, then use the same pot to set water to boil for orzo. Cook orzo in boiling salted water, about 7 minutes.
- In a large bowl, add all other ingredients, including orzo when it's cooked and drained. Orzo can be run under cold water OR left hot. Salad can be served warm or cold.
- Toss salad with the dressing and mix well. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and lemon wedges.