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.
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.
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.
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.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
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
- 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.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add orzo and bouillon cube. Cook as per package directions.
- Roughly chop spinach and add to a large bowl.
- Make salad dressing by combining ingredients and whisking.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add sautéed zucchini, diced tomatoes, feta cheese, minced olives and red onion to orzo.
- Toss gently to combine and serve.