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! 

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! #orzo #orzosalad #orzopasta #pastasalad #vegan #orzorecipesWe 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!

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! #orzo #orzosalad #orzopasta #pastasalad #vegan #orzorecipes

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.

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! #orzo #orzosalad #orzopasta #pastasalad #vegan #orzorecipes

Add cheese or nuts!

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!

Feel free to add toasted nuts or seeds- pinenuts, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds

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! #orzo #orzosalad #orzopasta #pastasalad #vegan #orzorecipes

Serve over a bed of greens for added nutrients.

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! #orzo #orzosalad #orzopasta #pastasalad #vegan #orzorecipes

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!

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! #orzo #orzosalad #orzopasta #pastasalad #vegan #orzorecipes

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!

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! #orzo #orzosalad #orzopasta #pastasalad #vegan #orzorecipes

More recipes you may like:

 

Enjoy the salad, let us know what you think of it in the comments below.

xoxo

Sylvia

 

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Lemon Basil Orzo Salad

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: vegan, pasta salad,
  • Method: Tossed
  • Cuisine: Northwest
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta Salad. Keep it vegan or add feta.  Summery, flavorful, zesty and light! Perfect for summer potlucks, or make-ahead lunches!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Optional additions: cheese ( goat, feta, shaved pecorino or parmesan), seeds, nuts, avocado, microgreens, chickpeas


Instructions

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- cherry tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, snap peas, goat cheese, avocado, nuts, seeds, arugula, etc.

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.

Enjoy!


Notes

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.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 ½ cups ( without feta)
  • Calories: 233
  • Sugar: 1.1 g
  • Sodium: 293.1 mg
  • Fat: 15 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23.6 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 4.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

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

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Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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Comments

  1. Another favourite to add to my list! Took this to a BBQ and it was a hit!

    So fresh with basil and lemon. I added arugula, sunflower seeds and feta.

    I will be making this one again, for sure!

  2. Made this for a get together with friends and it was absolutely gorgeous! Will definitely be making again. I’ve already added this recipe to my favourites!!

  3. I want to make this for a potluck and need 16 servings! Any advice on how to increase the servings?
    (I just had a house guest here who devoured this salad! Had to make another batch!)
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Mia! Funny! You would have the quadruple the recipe. I would make the orzo ahead- toss WELL with olive oil and a little salt and store in the fridge. Then the day of the potluck finish it up!

  4. really simple recipe but incredibly tasty and so-vegan-friendly xxx added pine nuts and for the non-vegans – topped it with parmesan. Will definitely be making again.

  5. Orzo is my favorite pasta for summer salads – thank you for this new addition to my rotation! It was so easy and the flavors so fresh and bright. I used purple basil from my garden, and added cucumbers and baby kale, and sheep’s milk feta, garnishing with halved cherry tomatoes and a few kalamata olives. I can’t get enough of this and it is better the next day for lunch!

  6. This salad is simply superb. I didn’t add any suggested extras and it is just delicious. It doesn’t need anything extra, the lemon and basil is so refreshing. Everyone loved it. A keeper that I will be making again and again.

  7. I can’t express how much I love this recipe!! I’m a fiend for basil and lemony anything but this is simply amazing. Making it a second time today (made it for the first time just last week and was still craving more) and can’t wait to chow down. So thank you!!! If anyone is wondering if they should try this recipe out, definitely go for it! Perfect summer salad. Oh and definitely double the dressing because you will want it on everything haha!

  8. This was so wonderful. Im making a second batch because the first went so fast!!!! I added chickpeas and used whole wheat orzo. Tip for the dressing ( which was perfect as is): I added some shallots and the liquid from a can of chickpeas into the dressing to stretch it and reduce calories, it was very very good). Thank you! I’ll be making many more of your recipes

  9. Over and over I find myself loving your recipes – they’re delicious as written, have lots of options and stimulate my imagination, plus my husband loves them! What could be better!

  10. This looks so good! And I love this dressing. DELICIOUS.
    And you are so sweet to that deer. Hopefully you’ll be able to salvage some of your garden!

  11. I just finished making it for a potluck that got canceled for smoke reasons… but oh my, it is delicious! So happy I get to eat it all week now for lunch. I think I will add some steamed beans to up the veggies even more. Thinking some sweet peppers might also be good. Only real change – I added pinenuts to the pesto recipe. Pulled everything from the garden. Will be making again for sure. Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi Gina! Im so glad you enjoyed this even thought the potluck got cancelled! Thanks for sharing your adaptions, all sound perfect!