This healthy and hearty orzo salad is loaded with mediterranean flavors like sun-dried tomatoes, olives and feta. It’s a total crowd-pleaser that you’ll want to bring to every summer cookout and potluck.
Oh my goodness, I’ve found the perfect side salad for summer cookouts, barbecues or backyard dinners. It’s a hearty, healthy mediterranean salad with orzo, cannellini beans, olives, feta and sun-dried tomatoes. I love the fact that it’s super flavorful and delicious, but also loaded with nutrient-rich toppings.
Most pasta salads aren’t the healthiest, but this salad actually does a good job of packing a ton of nutrition into one dish! I also like that it pairs well with just about any protein. I personally love serving it with grilled apple cider vinegar chicken. I think the flavors go really well together.
What is Orzo?
Orzo looks kind of like rice, but it’s actually pasta! It is made from wheat so steer clear if you have a gluten intolerance or allergy. You can cook it like rice (where the orzo absorbs the liquid) or more like a pasta where you boil the orzo and drain the extra liquid after cooking. It can be eaten hot or cold and is a super versatile ingredient!
How to Cook Orzo
In researching for this post, I learned there are a bunch of different ways to cook orzo!
Pasta method: Similarly to how you would cook any other pasta, you can add orzo to boiling water, boil for about 10 minutes until the orzo is done to your liking and then drain the excess water. This is the method most orzo packages will suggest and it’s the method we’re using for this salad.
Rice method: You can cook orzo exactly like you would cook rice. Add uncooked orzo and water to a saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed.
Risotto method: This was a new-to-me method, but sounds so delicious! You can add uncooked orzo to a saucepan with oil and other spices like onion and garlic. You then add hot broth one ladle at a time until each ladle of liquid is fully absorbed.
Pilaf method: The pilaf method combines the rice and risotto method. Start by sautéing the orzo with oil and your desired spices then add the liquid, cover and put in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Baking method: You can also cook orzo in casseroles – you’ll want to follow the specific directions of the recipe, but typically you’ll pre-cook the orzo for a little bit and it will finish cooking in the oven with the rest of the dish.
Orzo Salad is Perfect for Picnics and Potlucks
Orzo is a quick cooking pasta so this dish comes together in a flash.
You can prep the salad the night before and let it chill in the fridge until serving.
It can be served at room temperature.
If you make this easy Mediterranean orzo salad, please be sure to leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how it turns out. Your feedback is so helpful for the EBF team and other EBF readers.
This healthy and hearty orzo salad is loaded with mediterranean flavors like sun-dried tomatoes and feta. A total crowd-pleaser that you’ll want to bring to every summer cookout and potluck.
1 cup uncooked whole wheat orzo pasta
4 ounces fresh baby spinach, chopped
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup diced cucumber
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup cannellini beans or other white bean
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
sea salt and black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 Tablespoon olive oil
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add orzo and cook according to the package directions until just tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold water until the pasta cools to room temp. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
While orzo cooks make the dressing by using a blender or whisk to combine all ingredients.
Add the spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, beans and oregano to the orzo and toss to combine.
Add half of the balsamic dressing and toss again. Taste it and add more dressing if needed.
Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Serve at room temperature, sprinkled with feta.
You can prep this salad the day before and keep it chilled, covered in the refrigerator. For the best flavor, let the chilled salad come to room temperature before serving.