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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!
Enjoy the Orzo salad, and please let us know what you think of it in the comments below. ❤️
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
- 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 the salad tastes overly bitter ( it might be the olive oil) try adding a tiny bit of sugar- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon.
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
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