This greek orzo pasta salad is light and fresh. It's loaded with tasty mix-ins like feta cheese, tomatoes, olives, fresh herbs, chickpeas and more. The dressing is a simple, classic red wine vinaigrette.
About This Recipe
This is an ideal recipe for summer: you can make it ahead of time and serve it at a BBQ or picnic. It's a salad that's best served cold but it won't go bad if you leave it out for a little while either.
Orzo pasta salad is the same as pasta salad but with different pasta noodles! I love the texture that the orzo noodles give — they're smaller and easier to mix with the other ingredients.
This salad can be a side dish, main dish, or even a meal-prepped lunch for your week. It's loaded with a mix of veggies and pasta that are super-satisfying while staying light and fresh.
How to Make Orzo Pasta Salad
Orzo pasta salad is easy to make: simply cook your pasta, mix in all of the salad ingredients (like tomatoes, red onion, feta, chickpeas, etc.) and then stir in your dressing!
This recipe includes a traditional red wine vinaigrette, which is essentially a simple mix of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and some fresh lemon juice. If you don't want to make your own, you can also use a store-bought dressing.
This recipe has tons of mix-ins. Feel free to experiment with adding more of what you like and skip what doesn't sound good. This is an easy recipe to customize to your own tastes.
Here's a few notes on popular substitutions and additions:
- Olives: you can use any variety of olives for this recipe (black or green).
- Parsley: the recipe calls for flat-leaf parsley but you could substitute curly parsley.
- Tomatoes: use cherry or grape tomatoes.
- Dressing: swap out the homemade dressing for a store-bought red wine vinaigrette or a Greek or Italian dressing
- Other additions: corn, bell peppers, zucchini, salami, shrimp, basil, and green beans are all other ideas of additions to this salad.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cook the orzo according to the instructions on the pasta box until it is al dente (cooked but still slightly firm in the middle, not overcooked) so that it doesn't get mushy.
You'll also want to drain rinse the pasta under cold water once it finishes cooking. This will help it to maintain its texture once mixed into the salad.
Orzo pasta salad is the same as pasta salad, only it's made with orzo noodles! Traditional pasta salad is usually made with rotini noodles (spirals). Orzo pasta is a small pasta noodle shaped like a grain of rice.
The most classic, traditional dressing is a red wine vinaigrette. This recipe includes a simple way to make this dressing. You could swap this for similar light vinaigrettes that are store-bought or homemade, like a Greek or Italian dressing.
Store your leftover pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 - 5 days. It's not recommended to freeze leftovers as it will change the texture of the salad.
How to Make It Ahead of Time
This is a great recipe to make ahead of time! The flavors actually mingle and become stronger as it sits and marinates.
To make your orzo pasta salad ahead of time, follow the recipe as directed and then cover and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
You can let your salad sit for anywhere from a few hours to overnight before serving. It's recommended to let it sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.