Mediterranean Orzo Salad

This mediterranean orzo salad is an easy, colorful, zesty pasta salad.  It’s packed with baby spinach, fresh tomatoes, sautéed zucchini, kalamata olives and salty feta – all tossed with a lemony garlic vinaigrette.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad | Green Valley Kitchen

This is a versatile pasta salad – you can serve it as a side or main dish, it also works well either warm or cold.  I tend to make extra since this orzo salad refrigerates really well – making it an easy lunch to pack up and  bring to work the next day.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad | Green Valley Kitchen

Originally, I sautéed the spinach and added it to the pasta salad.  The only problem was that the spinach tended to clump together making it hard to evenly distribute throughout the salad.  So I tried a new technique this time.  I roughly chopped the spinach, added it to a large bowl and then, when the orzo was done cooking, tossed it with the chopped spinach and the lemony garlic dressing.  The fresh spinach will wilt and the orzo will cool slightly.  This serves two purposes – it saves one cooking step and orzo tends to work better at room temperature rather than piping hot.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad | Green Valley Kitchen

A couple of notes:

  • If you want a vegan version – swap out the feta cheese for some capers.
  • Adding black beans or chickpeas is a great way to boost the protein in this dish.
  • Some people may mistake orzo for rice but this small oval shaped pasta can be found in the pasta aisle at the supermarket.
  • Orzo expands when it cooks, so it may not look like a lot when you first measure it out, but it doubles in size when cooked.
  • This dish comes together quickly, so do all your prep work first.  Chop all the veggies, dice the feta, mince the garlic and prepare the dressing.  Have everything ready and on hand – this will make assembling the dish easy and straightforward with no rushing.
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Mediterranean Orzo Salad

Mediterranean Orzo Salad | Green Valley Kitchen

Mediterranean orzo salad – a colorful, easy, versatile orzo salad. Made with baby spinach, fresh tomatoes, sautéed zucchini, kalamata olives and salty feta. Great as a main meal or side dish.

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 12 mins
  • Total Time: 27 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • Salad
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1 veggie bouillon cube
  • 3 cups (packed) baby spinach – roughly chopped
  • 1 pound zucchini – I used 3 small zucchinis – quartered and sliced into thin slices
  • 1 clove of garlic – minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup of diced tomatoes – I used 3 medium sized tomatoes
  • 10 – 12 kalamata olives – roughly chopped
  • 2 oz feta cheese – diced
  • 2 tbs red onion – minced
  • Salad Dressing
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic – minced
  • ½ lemon juiced – about 1 tbs
  • 8 twists of pepper from a pepper mill.

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add orzo and bouillon cube. Cook as per package directions.
  2. Roughly chop spinach and add to a large bowl.
  3. Make salad dressing by combining ingredients and whisking.
  4. When orzo is done cooking, add to the large bowl with the chopped spinach. Pour dressing over orzo and spinach and stir continuously until spinach has wilted and dressing has coated orzo and spinach – about 1 minute.
  5. Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté sliced zucchini and minced garlic for about 6 to 7 minutes until slightly browned.
  6. Add sautéed zucchini, diced tomatoes, feta cheese, minced olives and red onion to orzo.
  7. Toss gently to combine and serve.

 

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24 comments on “Mediterranean Orzo Salad

  1. Julia | Orchard Street Kitchen

    This looks wonderful, Geraldine! I love simple Mediterranean dishes like this, and I’m a huge fan of orzo. I often do the same thing with spinach, since it wilts so quickly anyways. I can definitely see myself making this soon! Hope all is well with you 🙂

    Reply
    1. Geraldine Post author

      Thanks, Julia – I just figured out the spinach trick and will be using it in other dishes soon! Hope you had a fantastic time in Japan – loved your IG photos from your trip!

      Reply
  2. annie@ciaochowbambina

    I am a huge fan of Mediterranean flavors and I love orzo! Thanks for the tip on throwing the chopped fresh spinach in with the cooked orzo – great idea! Such fresh and lovely photos once again! Love it, my friend!

    Reply
  3. traci | vanilla and bean

    You’ve done it again! I adore your salad recipes, Geraldine and this one is no different! Letting the Orzo slightly wilt that spinach is so smart. Love the option to swap the feta with capers too! What a great idea! Those tomatoes are looking quite tasty. I just picked some up from the farm.. they’re telling me the tomatoes are almost done… I’m going to miss them terribly!!

    Reply
    1. Geraldine Post author

      Thanks, Traci, you always leave the nicest comments! My tomato plants are still going – but that’s only because its been so hot here. We’ve just been hit with some cool weather so that may be it for my plants this year. Looking forward to growing more next year though!

      Reply
  4. Izzy

    I am always in the mood for an orzo salad like this!! Such fresh and clean flavors and I love everything that has olives and feta in it!

    Reply
  5. Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary

    This pasta salad looks absolutely delicious, Geraldine! I love Mediterranean flavors and you have totally loaded this orzo up with tons of flavor! I could, and will, eat this as a meal! I’m going to add a little chicken to it for the hubster, because he needs protein, but this salad is perfect! I LOVE your tip on the spinach too!! So Much Yum! Pinned! Cheers – to a beautiful day! 😉

    Reply
    1. Geraldine Post author

      Thanks, Cheyanne – definitely add a little chicken or if you want to keep it vegetarian try some chickpeas or black beans. Thanks for the pin!

      Reply

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