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This Orzo Salad is perfect for summer gatherings and picnics. Cucumber, tomatoes, arugula, and a zesty Lemon Basil Dressing make the flavors pop!
We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.Joseph Campbel
During the warmer months, I love having a make-ahead salad on the ready to pull out of the fridge. Somehow it brings me so much satisfaction! This Orzo Salad is a light and refreshing salad bursting with summertime goodness. It’s tossed with cucumbers, tomatoes, arugula, and the tastiest Lemon Basil Dressing -bright, clean flavors make this salad one of my favorites! It’s the perfect salad for midweek lunches or as a dinner side dish alongside grilled chicken or veggie burgers!
What I love about This Orzo Salad
- Orzo cooks quickly- so the salad is SUPER fast to whip up.
- It’s vegan and highly adaptable- see all the variations below!
- It can be made ahead and lasts up to 4 days in the fridge.
- It’s the perfect dish to bring to a potluck because it goes with everything and it is always the first to disappear! Always a telltale sign. 🙂
How to Make Orzo Salad
Cook the orzo. Cook it in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
Make the dressing. While the orzo is 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 and cooled orzo together with the dressing and add cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.
TIP: 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.
Orzo Salad Variations!
- Add cheese- crumbled feta or goat cheese or even shaved pecorino or parmesan would be nice.
- Add toasted nuts or seeds- pinenuts, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.
- Add olives-kalama are nice!
- Add protein- toss in some chickpeas for extra protein!
- Add avocado for extra richness!
- Serve over a bed of greens if you like!
Store Orzo Salad up to 4 days in the fridge.
Orzo Salad Serving Suggestions
Serve orzo salad on it’s own as a make-ahead lunch, or bring it to summering gatherings, potlucks, and picnics! Pair it with:
Orzo Salad Tips
- If making this ahead, remember that pasta soaks up the salt- always taste it right before serving! I find pasta salads will need more salt and acid ( in this case, lemon) after they sit a while. 🙂
- Don’t overcook the orzo! Orzo tends to cook quickly, so watch it carefully and cook to al dente; that way it will soak up some of the flavorful dressing.
- Salt the pasta water for the best flavor!
More Orzo Recipes To love!
Enjoy the Orzo salad, and please let us know what you think of it in the comments below. ❤️
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: salad
- Method: Tossed
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
This Orzo Salad is tossed with a lemon basil dressing, with fresh 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!
- 1 cup dry orzo pasta (uncooked)
- 2 Turkish cucumbers, sliced (about 2 cups) or use English cucumbers
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- handful of 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
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
Optional additions: cheese (goat, feta, shaved pecorino or parmesan), seeds, nuts, avocado, microgreens, or chickpeas
- 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 repeatedly until uniformly chopped. Add lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Pulse a couple more times until combined, but not smooth.
- Place cooled orzo into a bowl and toss with the flavorful basil lemon sauce. Add any additions 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 the 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.
Orzo Salad will keep 4 days in the fridge
- Serving Size: 1 1/4 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: orzo pasta salad, orzo salad, orzo salad recipe, orzo recipe, lemon orzo pasta, lemon basil orzo salad, orzo recipes, vegan pasta salad, vegan orzo pasta salad
Delicious. I added fresh corn off the cob, feta, and avocado. Yum!
Perfect Anna, I love your additions!
This was so simple but so delicious! I added feta and poached chicken. I made extra dressing so I could use it in other dishes.
Great to hear Catherine!
I just made this salad – I love the different textures of the orzo, the cucumbers and the taste of the lemon. But, the dressing tastes a little bitter to me. I double checked that I followed the recipe exactly-I thoroughly mixed in the dressing. I used extra virgin olive oil. Although the recipe calls for olive oil, maybe my olive oil was too strong? I added a little more lemon, a teeny bit of apple cider vinegar and a teeny bit of honey to get rid of the bitterness which helped a little. It’s a great salad and quite pretty to look at. Perhaps once it gets cold it will be less bitter…..Would you kindly give me more ideas to make it less bitter?
Hi Donna- it may be your olive oil? Why don’t you taste it by itself and see if it is bitter? The bitterness may settle after it sits a bit. 🙂
How do you think this would be with arugula instead of basil in the dressing?
I’m not sure? You could give it a try? I do really like the basil here…
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!
Forgot to do the rating!! Top marks for sure 🙂
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!!
Oh thanks! Great to hear!
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!)
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!
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.
Such a simple and delicious recipe with easy to find ingredients.
This looks so yummy. Do you think I could make it with Israeli couscous instead of orzo?
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!
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.
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!
Can I make this with regular cucumbers?? Can’t wait to try it. Love Orzo and lemons . . .yum
Yes, of course!
Delicious! Thank you
So delicious . Bright, fresh and savory.
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
thanks Miranda! Love the tip!
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!
Im so glad you are both enjoying! thanks for commenting and rating!
I’ve actually yet to cook orzo, but I cannot wait to try out this recipe when I do. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Jennifer, let us know what you think!
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!
So yummy and fresh!!!
Yay Teresa, I’m so glad you liked it!! thanks for the comment and rating! xoxo
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!!
Hi Gina! Im so glad you enjoyed this even thought the potluck got cancelled! Thanks for sharing your adaptions, all sound perfect!