Lemon Basil Orzo Salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and arugula. A healthy, vegan, pasta salad that can be made ahead for midweek lunches or potlucks. Keep it vegan or add feta!
We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.― Joseph Campbell
Here’s a simple salad full of summertime flavor – Lemon Basil Orzo Salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and arugula. It’s a refreshing salad to make ahead for midweek lunches or to serve alongside grilled chicken or fish for weeknight dinners. Bright clean flavors make this lemony orzo salad one of my favorites! My husband devoured a whole bowl of it last night, and declared it “delicious”! He’s not a huge pasta salad fan, so I took this as a great compliment.
It smells so fresh and looks so vibrant, it’s really hard to resist. This would also be an easy potluck salad, one that you could make ahead. Keep it vegan or add cheese, either way, it’s tasty!
Cook the Orzo
The orzo salad starts with 1 cup of dry orzo pasta. It doesn’t seem like much, but it swells a lot. Cook it in a post of salted water, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Make the dressing.
While the orzo cooking, blend the lemon basil dressing together in a food processor.
What gives the dressing the extra lemony kick is lemon zest from one whole lemon!
Toss the Orzo salad!
Toss the cooked orzo together with the dressing and add cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.
I’ll often add a handful of arugula for color and a peppery bite. If making this ahead, wait until serving to add the arugula, so it’s fresh.
Add cheese or nuts!
Serve over a bed of greens for added nutrients.
Toss in a few chickpeas for extra protein if you like.
Add avocado for extra richness.
You get the idea… make a meal out of it!
On the home front. We’re back from our Yellowstone & Grand Teton adventure- wow, what beauty abounds! And at the same time, I feel so good to be back home and do simple things like laundry and dishes. I never thought I’d say that, but it’s true. As much as I love to travel and getting to explore new places, I’m finding that I love being a homebody just as much.
When we got home yesterday, I noticed all of my tomato plants had been freshly devoured. We have a “pet” deer, who lives in the wild area behind our house. It’s hard to be upset with her because she had a baby this year and has been extra hungry. After she mowed all our strawberries earlier this summer, Brian started leaving birdseed out for her, to help distract her from our garden. But while we were gone, she developed a taste for tomatoes, hot chili peppers, parsley, cilantro, basil, and nasturtiums. Didn’t touch the summer squash though…. quite an interesting palate she has!
More recipes you may like:
- Spring Orzo with Asparagus, Lemon and Dill
- Lemony Chicken Orzo Soup with Dill
- 40 Must-Try Vegan Salads
- Lemony Chicken Arugula Quinoa Salad
- Everyday Cucumber Salad with Chili and Lime
- Lemony Chickpea Quinoa Salad
Enjoy the salad, let us know what you think of it in the comments below.
Kitchen Essentials from this post!
- Gold and Rattan Salad Servers
- Handmade Ceramic Salad Bowl (Medium)
- My favorite Zester!
- A good quality Food Processor
- Good quality olive oil.
Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta Salad. Keep it vegan or add feta. Summery, flavorful, zesty and light! Perfect for summer potlucks, or make-ahead lunches!
- 1 cup dry orzo pasta ( uncooked)
- 2 Turkish cucumbers, sliced ( about 2 cups) or use English cucumbers
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- handful baby arugula ( optional, or sub baby spinach)
Lemon Basil Dressing
- 1 cup basil ( packed down tight, about 2 ounces)
- 2 fat garlic cloves
- zest from one medium lemon
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon cracked pepper
Cook orzo in generously salted water. Drain and rinse with cold water, until cooled.
Place cooled orzo into a bowl and toss with the flavorful basil lemon sauce. Add any additions you like- cherry tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, snap peas, goat cheese, avocado, nuts, seeds, arugula, etc.
If you plan to add a lot of veggies or beans to the orzo (like, more than a cup or two) double or 1 ½ times the lemon basil dressing so your final dish still has plenty of flavor and vibrant color.
Keywords: pasta salad recipe, summer pasta salad, orzo pasta salad, orzo recipe, lemon orzo pasta, lemon basil orzo pasta salad, orzo recipes, vegan pasta salad, vegan orzo pasta salad