Greek Orzo Salad (Orzo feta salad) is one of those super simple dishes that take just so little effort to prepare! Short cooking time, little preparation and you will have a delicious light meal or side dish in 30′! Greek orzo pasta salad is perfect for those summer picnics and parties or as something to eat on the go. And with the mixture of Kalamata olives, tangy feta cheese and a classic earthy Greek dressing, there’s so much flavour involved!
So go ahead, read along to discover how to make it to perfection with my delicious recipe, step by step photos, tips and tricks, variations and ingredient suggestions!
What is Greek Orzo Salad?
Greek Orzo Pasta salad is a traditional dish that is used as a side for parties, gatherings and even as a light mid week dinner! It is a simple recipe that can be adapted to whatever vegetables you have around the kitchen but is usually made with tomatoes, cucumber, onion and olives.
- Easy to make: There’s just a short preparation time and a little cooking needed to make this recipe. Then simply chill it and it will be ready to serve.
- Use up ingredients: Once you’ve tried it the traditional way, mix up those ingredients for a great use-up recipe.
Greek Orzo Pasta Salad Key Ingredients
There are a few key ingredients needed to make this salad recipe:
- Orzo salad: As well as the orzo pasta, you’ll want some cherry tomatoes, red onion, English cucumber and Kalamata olives to mix in. Season with olive oil, fresh basil and dill.
- For the dressing: A simple dressing made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, a little lemon zest and oregano works perfectly.
- To finish: As well as salt and pepper, adding some cubed feta is always my favorite option.
Tip: Use good quality Greek dried oregano here for the best results as some of the big-name brands tend to be very dry. If you can’t get Greek oregano, the next best would be a quality Mexican oregano.
Key Preparation Tips
There are three main steps involved with making this orzo salad:
- Cook the orzo pasta
- Prepare the dressing
- Make the salad and finish
Cook the Orzo pasta
Boil up your kettle full of water and, at the same time, heat some olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the orzo and cook until it starts to color, stirring regularly.
Then add the boiling water from the kettle with a teaspoon of salt and cook for 10-12 minutes until just tender and al-dente.
Drain the orzo and rinse it under a cold tap until the water flowing out of the pasta is clear. This will cool the orzo down, stopping it from cooking any further and preventing it from getting too soft and soggy.
Finally, set aside to drain any extra moisture, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
Make the dressing for Greek Orzo salad
For the dressing we keep it nice and simple using classic and earthy Greek flavours. Just make sure you use good quality and fresh ingredients!
My favourites are some extra virgin olive oil, a little red wine vinegar to add some acidity, lemon zest for some delicious freshness and of course some Greek oregano. In a small dish, combine all the ingredients together, season and whisk to combine.
Prepare the Orzo feta salad
Prepare the salad ingredients by quartering the cherry tomatoes, peeling and finely chopping the onion and cucumber and cutting the olives into quarters. If you find red onion is a little sharp in flavor, run it under the cold water tap before adding it to the salad mix.
Pour the orzo pasta into a large mixing bowl and add the salad vegetables. Roughly chop the fresh herbs and add them to the mix as well. Pour in the salad dressing and toss.
Stir in the cubed feta and gently stir so your feta doesn’t break apart. Taste and if needed, season with some more salt and pepper before serving. Just be careful not to add too much salt as both the feta and olives are usually quite salty on their own.
Tip: For maximum flavour, allow your salad to marinate for about an hour before serving so that the orzo absorbs the sauce.
What is Orzo?
If you’ve ever eaten orzo before, it is easy to confuse it with rice due to its shape! However, Orzo is, in fact, pasta and you can find it at the grocery store alongside other shaped kinds of pasta.
Flavor wise, Orzo tastes mild, making it the perfect match for pasta salads like this Greek Orzo Salad, but also it is a wonderful pairing for soups and even risotto-like dishes.
You’ll also find whole wheat orzo, much like most kinds of pasta. If you want to increase the fiber and protein in this dish, use the whole wheat variety instead.
Can I Use Another Type of Pasta?
While there’s something just perfect about orzo for this recipe, you can swap it for other types of pasta if that’s what you have. Spiral, bowtie, penne or even macaroni pasta will work the same, just use the same weight. You could even test something like a cheese-filled tortellini but use double the weight listed.
Many traditional Greek recipes will use green bell peppers in this dish but it is a controversial flavor in our house! So we left it out but if you want to add some, finely chop one pepper and add it to the salad. They will add some extra crunch to the orzo salad together with some additional freshness.
Finally, you could also add artichoke hearts which will add some delicious tenderness to the dish or some salad greens such as spinach or arugula.
Making ahead of time and storing
You can keep the pasta salad in the refrigerator for 2-3 days in an airtight container. If it feels a little dry when you take it out, mix some olive oil into it to refresh it.
Can You Freeze Greek Pasta Salad?
While you can freeze pasta salads, some of them don’t freeze as well as others. It all depends on the components in the dish.
In general, if you use raw crisp vegetables such as cucumbers or tomatoes, I don’t suggest freezing them since they won’t work well when frozen.
Therefore, this dish is best eaten fresh, rather than frozen. Alternatively, wait to add the veggies until after it’s thawed!
You can serve the dish as a side salad, where this recipe will make around 8 portions. It works well alongside burgers, chicken souvlaki, beef souvlaki, pork souvlaki and of course chicken gyros and pork gyros as well as other side dishes such as briam (mixed roast vegetables).
Finally, you can make this into a more substantial meal by adding something like some grilled shrimp or shredded chicken to the recipe once you have made it. Serve it with some homemade crusty bread for a simple and filling meal.
Other delicious Greek salads
If you love my Greek orzo pasta salad, then you’ll also love my following handpicked recommendations!
Greek Orzo Salad (Orzo feta salad)
Author: Eli K. Giannopoulos
Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus 1 hour chilling time)
Yield: 4 as a main, 8 as a side
Greek Orzo Salad with feta cheese is one of those super simple dishes that take just so little effort to prepare! Short cooking time, little preparation and you will have a delicious light meal or side dish in 30′!
For Greek orzo salad
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- a kettle of boiling water
- orzo (1 3/4 cups)
- cherry tomatoes (14 oz)
- small red onion
- English cucumber
- handfuls Kalamata olives
- fresh basil leaves (1 oz)
- fresh dill (1/2 oz)
For the orzo salad dressing
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- zest of lemon
To season and decorate
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- cubed feta (6 oz)
Similar recipes you may like!
- To prepare this delicious Greek orzo salad recipe, start with cooking the orzo pasta. Boil the water in the kettle. At the same time heat the olive oil over a medium high heat in a large saucepan. Once the oil is shimmering, add the orzo and cook, stirring often until the orzo starts to color. Fill the pan with boiling water, stir in a of teaspoon of salt and cook the orzo for 10-12 minutes, until just tender and al-dente.
- Drain the orzo and rinse under a cold tap until the water running out the pasta runs clear. Set aside to drain away any excess water, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta sticking to each other.
- Meanwhile, quarter the cherry tomatoes, peel and finely chop the onion and the cucumber, and quarter the olives.
- Transfer the cooked orzo to a large bowl and stir in the salad vegetables. Roughly chop the fresh herbs and add those too.
- To make the dressing, in a small bowl combine the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, lemon zest, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Stir this into the orzo mixture.
- Add the cubed feta and stir carefully, making sure the cheese pieces don’t break up too much. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if needed, and leave to stand in the fridge for roughly an hour before serving to allow the orzo to soak up the dressing. Enjoy!
Keywords: greek orzo salad, greek orzo pasta salad, orzo feta salad
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