Orzo salad is a quick and easy solution for a tasty, satisfying, and healthy meal. You can make it with fresh vegetables, chickpeas, and a zesty mustard dressing.

It’s an excellent recipe for meal prep, picnics, and summer cookouts, perfect as a main meal or side dish.

orzo pasta salad

Ingredients & Substitutions

Orzo salad ingredients

Find the complete recipe with ingredients and instructions in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Orzo pasta

Substitute any other short pasta shape for orzo pasta, such as fusilli, rotini, penne, ditalini, farfalle, ziti, or macaroni.

Use gluten-free pasta to make this orzo pasta salad recipe without gluten.

Note that the name “orzo” for this pasta shape is used mainly in the United States, but it is generally not used in Europe and Italy, where this pasta shape is called “Risoni.”

Orzo in Italian means “barley,” as in the grain, and has nothing to do with pasta. Here’s the link if you are looking for a barley salad.

Veggies

Pick and choose a mix of your favorite veggies keeping trying to use different colors and textures. We recommend:

  • Cherry tomatoes: substitute vine tomatoes, grape tomatoes, plum tomatoes, or roma tomatoes for cherry tomatoes. You can also use small tomatoes of different colors.
  • Cucumber: You can use English cucumber, Persian, or Kirby cucumber. Substitute radishes, celery, or grated carrots for cucumber.
  • Olives: You can use Kalamata olives, Gaeta olives, or simple black pitted olives.
  • Red onion: Substitute shallot or spring onions for red onion for a milder and less sharp flavor.
  • Chickpeas: You can use canned or dry chickpeas that you first soak in water for 12 hours and then cook for 2 hours or until tender.

    In either case, drain and rinse the chickpeas before using. Chickpeas add protein and make the dish fulfilling.

    Substitute black beans, cannellini beans, or lentils for chickpeas.
  • Fresh parsley: You use fresh flat-leaf parsley or substitute other fresh herbs such as fresh basil leaves, fresh mint, dill, chives, or coriander for parsley. It’s best if the herbs are fresh and not dried.

    You can substitute arugula or baby spinach for fresh herbs.

Feta cheese (optional)

You can use regular feta or non-dairy feta. We recommend crumbling it before adding it in. Substitute with diced mozzarella.

Mustard dressing

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh lemon juice: substitute apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar.
  • Lemon zest: omit if you don’t have a lemon.
  • Mustard: use yellow mustard or Dijon mustard.
  • Maple syrup: substitute honey.
  • Salt and black pepper: use sea salt or kosher salt.
  • Garlic: optional. Substitute garlic powder.
orzo salad in a large bowl

How to make orzo salad

Marinate the chickpeas

Make the dressing in a medium bowl by whisking extra virgin olive oil, grated lemon zest, lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, salt, and black pepper.

Add canned chickpeas (drained and rinsed), toss, and set aside for the time it takes to cook the pasta and cut the veggies.

Marinated chickpeas in lemon dressing

Cook the orzo pasta

Boil the orzo pasta in a large pot with salted boiling water per package instructions.

When the pasta is al dente, drain and rinse it under cold water for 15 seconds to prevent it from overcooking.

cooked orzo in a white sift

Mix in the veggies

To a large bowl, add the cooked orzo pasta, the chickpeas with the dressing, quartered cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, sliced olives, chopped red onion, and chopped parsley.

Orzo salad with veggies

Toss, then taste and adjust for salt before serving.

Orzo salad with lemon and fresh vegetables

Variations

Greek orzo pasta salad

Greek orzo pasta salad

Add crumbled feta (or non-dairy feta) and a pinch of dried oregano to give this orzo salad a Mediterranean spin.

This Greek orzo pasta salad is tangy, cheesy, and delicious, and we think you’ll love it.

Serving suggestions

Orzo salad is excellent as a main course or side dish to a barbecue, for example, next to bbq tofu, grilled tofu, or grilled chicken.

You can serve it with a topping or with a second dressing. Yep, sometimes we like adding a second dressing to make the recipe tastier.

Storage

Make ahead: you can make orzo salad up to a day in advance. We advise against making it earlier than that because the veggies lose their crunch.

Refrigerator: keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Freezer: we don’t recommend freezing orzo pasta salad.

More pasta salad recipes

Get more easy and fresh pasta salad ideas here:

More summer salad ideas

If you love light and refreshing summer salads, get healthy inspiration here:

  • Rice salad (olives, cherry tomato, pickled cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, lemon, etc.)
  • Farro salad (farro, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, lemon, olive oil, olives, etc.)
  • Couscous salad (couscous, bell pepper, cucumber, olives, lemon, olive oil, etc.)
  • Quinoa salad (chickpeas, quinoa, olives, red onion, parsley, mustard, etc.)
  • Chickpea salad (maple syrup, mustard, chickpeas, cucumber, corn, etc.)

For many more salad ideas, check out our salads category page.

orzo salad

Orzo Salad

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 4 votes
Orzo salad is a quick and easy recipe for a tasty, satisfying, and healthy meal. You can make it with fresh vegetables, chickpeas, and a zesty mustard dressing.
It's excellent for meal prep, picnics, and summer cookouts, perfect as a main meal or side dish.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Course: Main Course, Side dish
Cuisine: American Italian

Ingredients

For the salad

  • cups orzo pasta or ½ pound
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • cups cherry tomatoes quartered
  • cups cucumber diced
  • ½ cup olives sliced
  • cup red onion chopped
  • cup parsley chopped
  • 2 ounces feta or non-dairy feta

For the dressing

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice + the zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

MARINATE THE CHICKPEAS

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients: 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
    Add 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas (drained and rinsed), toss, and set aside for 10 minutes.
    Marinated chickpeas in lemon dressing

COOK THE ORZO PASTA

  • Cook 1½ cups orzo pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water per package instructions.
    When the pasta is al dente, drain and rinse it under cold water for 15 seconds to prevent it from overcooking.
    cooked orzo in a white sift

MIX IN THE VEGGIES

  • To a large bowl, add the cooked orzo pasta, the chickpeas with the dressing, 1½ cups cherry tomatoes (quartered), 1½ cups cucumber (diced), ½ cup olives (sliced), ⅓ cup red onion (chopped), and ⅓ cup parsley (chopped).
    Orzo salad with veggies
  • Toss, then taste and adjust for salt before serving.
    Orzo salad with lemon and fresh vegetables
  • Optionally you can crumble in 2 ounces feta and a pinch of dried oregano.
    Orzo salad with lemon and crumbled feta

Video

Easy Orzo Salad (20 mins)

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 serving of orzo pasta salad our of 6 servings, including feta.
STORAGE
Make ahead: you can make orzo salad up to a day in advance. We advise against making it earlier than that because the veggies lose their crunch.
Refrigerator: keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freezer: we don’t recommend freezing orzo pasta salad.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE
 

Nutrition

Calories: 323kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Potassium: 310mg, Dietary Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 450IU, Vitamin B6: 0.3mg, Vitamin C: 15mg, Vitamin E: 2mg, Vitamin K: 36µg, Calcium: 91mg, Folate: 33µg, Iron: 2mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 44mg, Zinc: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Leave a comment below or mention @theplantbasedschool on Instagram. We are also on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok.

[adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”ZRo5sgN0″ upload-date=”2023-07-21T11:19:03.000Z” name=”Orzo Salad” description=”Orzo salad is a quick and easy solution for a tasty, satisfying, and healthy meal. You can make it with fresh vegetables, chickpeas, and a zesty mustard dressing.

It’s an excellent recipe for meal prep, picnics, and summer cookouts, perfect as a main meal or side dish.” player-type=”default” override-embed=”default”]


Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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4 Comments

  1. I LOVE your You Tube Channel. Your wife is beautiful and your recipes are GREAT.
    This coming from a vegetarian 78 year old female.

    1. Hi Joy,
      You’re very kind!! We’re so happy you like our channel and food.
      Thank you for following along, it means a lot to us ❤️
      All the best,
      Louise and Nico