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!
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!
Ingredients in Orzo Salad
orzo pasta – I like to buy whole wheat orzo because it contains more fiber than regular.
baby spinach – baby spinach has a mild flavor and texture that works perfectly in this orzo salad.
sun-dried tomatoes – these are a must! They add a ton of flavor.
cucumber – for some added crunch.
Kalamata olives – make sure you’re buying pitted olives so you can easily chop them up.
cannellini beans – the perfect ingredient to add bulk protein. I used canned cannellini beans but you can cook your own if you want.
dried oregano, salt and black pepper – to really bring all the flavors together!
feta cheese – this adds such a good flavor to the salad so I wouldn’t recommend omitting it. If needed you can use a vegan feta.
balsamic dressing – a super simple dressing made with balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, garlic, sea salt, and olive oil.
Notes & Substitutions
Cannellini – Like I mentioned, I used canned cannellini beans because they’re super easy to use! If you don’t like cannellini beans you can substitute for another white bean like chickpeas or Northern beans.
Avocado – Want to add a little creaminess and healthy fats to your salad? Add in some chopped avocado!
I love that this salad pairs well with just about any protein. It’s delicious served with my grilled apple cider vinegar chicken. I think the flavors go really well together. It’s also a perfect side for cookouts and potlucks.
To make it in advance: You can prep the salad the night before and let it chill in the fridge until serving. I recommend serving at room temperature.
To store leftovers: Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
Cook orzo: 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.
Prep dressing: While orzo cooks make the dressing by using a blender or whisk to combine all ingredients.
Mix ingredients: Add the spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, beans and oregano to the orzo and toss to combine.
Add dressing: 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: Serve at room temperature, sprinkled with feta.
Cannellini – If you don’t like cannellini beans you can substitute for another white bean like chickpeas or Northern beans.Avocado – Want to add a little creaminess and healthy fats to your salad? Add in some chopped avocado!Dressing – I love the balsamic dressing I created for this salad but any dressing would work if you’re in a pinch. Some options: Greek Salad Dressing, white balsamic vinaigrette or lemon vinaigrette.
Serving: 1/6 of recipeCalories: 255kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 7gFat: 11gFiber: 3gSugar: 7g