Filled with light mediterranean vegetables, toasted almonds and a white balsamic vinaigrette, this Mediterranean Orzo Pasta Salad will make you swoon! It’s the ultimate salad to serve with seafood or chicken, and it’s wicked easy to make.
Easy Mediterranean Orzo Pasta Salad
I’m obsessed with the fresh flavors and the crunchy nuts in this cool, refreshing pasta salad. This recipe is inspired by the J. Alexanders Restaurant Orzo Salad, and let me just say, I could eat it every day the rest of my life! It’s that yummy. And it helps that it’s healthy, too!
Everything comes together very quickly, and you can easily prepare the salad in advance, if desired. It’s paired with a mouthwatering white balsamic dressing that ties it all together. Everything about this pasta salad is a win!
Between the orzo, the fresh veggies and the dressing ingredients, this dish keeps it classic. Here’s what you’ll need:
For the Orzo Salad
- Orzo: You’ll need 1 pound.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Diced. Use the ones in olive oil, as they still have moisture in them.
- Artichokes: Finely diced and drained.
- Orange Bell Pepper: finely diced.
- Green Onions: Slice them up finely.
- Basil: Thinly sliced.
- Almonds: Slivered.
For the White Balsamic Dressing
- Garlic: One clove, minced.
- Dijon Mustard: For flavor!
- Raw Honey: To add a touch of sweetness.
- White Balsamic Vinegar: You’ll need 1/4 cup.
- Olive Oil: The olive oil actually helps your body absorb more of the nutrients from the salad!
- Salt & Pepper: To taste.
What is Orzo?
Orzo is a small, rice-looking pasta that is absolutely perfect for pasta salads. It can be made from white or whole grain flour, and either kind will work for this recipe – they’re both delicious! But if you really want to pack some fiber and protein into your salad, go for whole grain orzo.
Need your salad to be gluten-free? You can totally find orzo that accommodates your dietary needs. I love orzo because it tastes like pasta, feels like rice and cooks quicker than either!
How to Make this Orzo Pasta Salad
This pasta salad only takes 20 minutes to make! You just have to toast the almonds, cook the orzo and assemble the dish.
- Make Dressing: To a small bowl, add the garlic, mustard, honey, white balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- Toast Almonds: Heat a sauté pan to medium-high heat, add the almonds and toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring on occasion so as not to burn them. Remove them from the pan once slightly browned and place them on a plate.
- Cook Orzo: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add in orzo and cook until al dente, according to package instructions, about 8-10 minutes.
- Assemble Salad: Drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl. Add in the sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, orange bell pepper, green onions, basil and dressing. Toss to combine.
- Add Almonds: Top the salad with your toasted almonds right before serving. Toss to combine and serve!
I’m a huge fan of the ingredients in this salad, but if you want to make changes, go right ahead! It’s super customizable. Here are some ideas for how to switch it up. You can add:
- Use a Different Kind of Pasta
- Grilled Chicken or Shrimp
- Dill or Other Herbs
- Use Another Salad Dressing
- Feta Cheese
- Use Regular Cherry Tomatoes
- Add Other Toasted Nuts
Tips for Success
These tips will help you make the most delicious orzo salad with ease. Be sure to check them out!
- Advice for Cooking Orzo: I recommend salting the water before cooking orzo, just like you would for regular pasta. Make sure you’re mixing it frequently so the noodles don’t stick to each other. The orzo is ready when it has a firm but chewy texture.
- Drain Well: Drain the pasta well to avoid excess moisture in your salad. If you mix together the ingredients while the orzo is still a bit warm, it will absorb all the yummy flavors of your veggies!
- Toast Your Nuts: I have to admit that sometimes, when a recipe calls for toasted almonds, the lazy girl in me skips that step and just leaves them raw. Resist that temptation when making this salad! Toasted nuts have tons more flavor and crunchiness than raw ones do, and you don’t want to miss out.
- Use Fresh Herbs: Don’t settle for dried herbs here! You’ll get so much more flavor from fresh ones.
- Chop Finely: Make sure you chop up your herbs and veggies finely so that the flavors disperse throughout every single bite.
How to Store Extras
Leftover orzo salad stays nice and fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days. You can keep it for up to a week, if desired. Be sure to store it in an airtight container.
What Goes with Orzo Pasta Salad?
So many dishes go great with a side of orzo salad. These particular recipes are some of the best!
- Salmon: I love serving my salad with this juicy Dijon Maple Glazed Salmon. It’s easy enough for a school night and fancy enough for a weekend dinner with friends.
- Chicken: These Balsamic Grilled Chicken Kabobs are so fun to make and so irresistible alongside orzo salad. It’s a ten out of ten dinner combo!
- Corn: Grilled Corn on the Cob goes great with pasta salad, don’t you think? My recipe includes a spicy jalapeño sauce that’s out of this world delicious!
Can I Make Orzo Salad in Advance?
Yes! Orzo salad is great for making ahead of time. Prepare the salad and the dressing a day in advance and store them in separate containers in the fridge. I suggest adding the almonds right before serving. If the almonds sit in the orzo salad overnight, they tend to lose their crunch. And the crunch is the best part!
More Pasta Recipes to Try
Pasta is a staple ingredient, and there are so many tasty ways to serve it! Try these recipes next.Print
Filled with tasty vegetables, toasted almonds and a white balsamic vinaigrette, this Mediterranean Orzo Pasta Salad will make you swoon! It’s the ultimate salad to serve with seafood or chicken, and it’s wicked easy to make.
For the Orzo Pasta Salad
- 1 lb. orzo
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced (use the ones in olive oil because they still have moisture in them)
- 15 oz. can whole artichokes, fined diced (drained)
- 1 orange bell pepper, fined diced
- 3 green onions, finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons basil, thinly sliced
- 2 oz. slivered almonds
For the White Balsamic Dressing
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, add garlic clove, dijon mustard, honey, white balsamic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- Heat a saute pan to medium high heat, add almonds and toast for 2-3 minutes. Stirring on occasion so as not to burn. Remove from pan when slightly browned and place on plate.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add in orzo and cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8-10 minutes.
- Drain pasta and place in a large bowl, add in sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, orange bell pepper, green onions, basil, and dressing.
- Toss to combine.
- Add toasted almonds right before serving. Toss to combine and serve!
- Serving Size: 1/2 cup
- Calories: 209
- Sugar: 5 g
- Sodium: 71 mg
- Fat: 7 g
- Carbohydrates: 32 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 6 g
Keywords: orzo salad, orzo pasta salad, mediterranean salad, easy pasta salad, healthy salad