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!
On the home front. We’re back from out 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 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 tomatoes 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 bird seed 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.
Anyhow, the orzo salad starts with 1 cup of dry orzo pasta. It doesn’t seem like much, but it swells a lot.
While its cooking, blend the lemon basil dressing together in a food processor.
What gives the dressing the extra lemony kick is lemon zest form one whole lemon.
Toss the cooked orzo together with the dressing and add cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.
I’ll often had 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.
Feel free to add cheese- crumbled feta or goat cheese or even shaved pecorino or parmesan would be nice. It’s really not imperative though. It’s really delicious without the cheese too!
Toss in a few chickpeas for extra protein if you like. Add avocado for extra richness.
Kitchen Essentials from this post!
Handmade Ceramic Salad Bowl (Medium)
My favorite Zester!
A good quality Food Processor
Good quality olive oil.Print
Lemon Basil Orzo Salad
Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta Salad. Keep it vegan or add feta. Summery, flavorful, zesty and light! Perfect for summer potlucks, or make-ahead lunches!
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4
- Category: vegan, pasta salad,
- Method: Tossed
- Cuisine: Northwest
- 1 cup dry orzo pasta ( uncooked)
- 2 Turkish cucumbers, sliced ( about 2 cups)
- 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
Optional additions: cheese ( goat, feta, shaved pecorino or parmesan), seeds, micro greens, chick peas
Cook orzo in generously salted water. Drain and rinse with cold water, until cooled.
Place basil, garlic and lemon zest in a food processor. Pulse repeated until uniformly chopped. Add lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Pulse a couple more times, until combine, but not smooth.
Place cooled orzo into a bowl and toss with the flavorful basil lemon sauce. Add any additions you like- arugula, cucumber, chickpeas, snap peas, feta, asparagus, or shrimp and toss. ( see notes)
Orzo will soak up much of the salt after it sits, so make sure to taste for salt right before serving. I’ll usually add another ¼ teaspoon. Adjust lemon adding more to taste.
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.
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