Combine your favorite Mediterranean flavors in this easy orzo pesto salad. Tender orzo pasta, fresh vegetables, and a delicious pesto and lemon dressing pair perfectly together to make this tasty summer salad.
Why you'll love it
- Easy and delicious pasta salad
- Perfect as a lazy, cold lunch or dinner
- Customize the recipe and use ingredients that you have available
- A filling vegetarian salad that the whole family can enjoy
Orzo pasta: Orzo gives its name to this recipe, but you can also make this salad with any other small types of pasta, like penne.
Tomatoes: Use cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes, or diced Roma tomatoes. Whatever you have on hand!
Onion: The red onion adds a lovely flavor to this dish. I don't recommend substituting this for any other type of onion.
Lemon juice: Fresh lemon juice or bottled - they will both work fine!
Artichokes: Canned artichoke hearts add a lovely flavor to the dish, but can be omitted if you prefer.
Pesto: I use store bought pesto to save time, but you can certainly make your own if you want.
Olives: Kalamata olives are delicious, but black or green olives will also work fine. Omit them if you're not a fan of olives.
Feta cheese: Gives the salad a nice consistency, and a lovely salty flavor.
Spinach: All good salads have some fresh, green leaves, and spinach is a great choice for this orzo pesto salad. You can also use any other leafy greens or lettuce that you like.
You can find full instructions + ingredient measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of this page
One: Boil the orzo pasta according to the package instructions. Drain off any excess water, and leave it to cool.
Two: Wash and dice the vegetables. Add them to a salad bowl, along with crumbled feta cheese, cooked orzo, and pesto.
Three: Combine the ingredients well, and serve!
- Use store-bought pesto for convenience, or make your own from scratch if you prefer.
- This recipe is great for using up leftover orzo pasta.
- You can omit, substitute, or add any salad ingredients as you wish. Feel free to customize it to suit your preferences.
This salad is quite filling and can be served either as a main course or as a side dish.
As a main, you can serve it for lunch or dinner, with a slice of fresh bread or Air Fryer Garlic Bread on the side.
Pair this pesto orzo salad with a lean protein for a simple, healthy, and delicious dinner. For example, serve it with my Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken, Instant Pot Chicken Drumsticks, or Baked Turkey Burgers.
- Omit the feta cheese to make this dish vegan. Make sure to also choose a vegan pesto, or make your own without Parmesan cheese.
- You can easily omit any vegetables that you don't like.
- Feel free to add any extra ingredients if you want. Diced peppers, cucumber, fresh herbs like basil leaves, or radishes could all be great add-ins.
- To make the orzo pasta salad more filling, you could add some canned chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or shredded chicken.
- Make a Caprese version by omitting the feta cheese and all vegetables except the tomatoes, and add fresh basil and fresh mozzarella cheese.
Store any leftover orzo pesto salad in a sealed container in a refrigerator for up to 3 days. This salad keeps fresh and tasty and is a great option for a meal prep salad.
I love to prepare a big batch of this to have for easy lunches throughout the week, or as an easy side dish for summer BBQs.
To keep the vegetables even fresher, you could just refrigerate the orzo separately from the remaining ingredients, and assemble the salad immediately before serving.
Frequently asked questions
Orzo pasta is a small type of pasta shaped like grains of rice. It tastes just like any type of pasta, but because it's so small, sauce tends to adhere well to it, and it tends to cook a little faster.
Absolutely! Pasta is a common ingredient in salads.
It depends on the usage! Rinsing the orzo before cooking removes some of the extra starch. In this recipe, I don't recommend that you rinse it, as the starch helps the pesto stick to the grains better.
You might also like these recipes
- Orzo Salad with Spinach, Feta and Lemon
- Strawberry Walnut Salad
- Watermelon Basil Salad
- Avocado Chickpea Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
If you make this recipe, make sure to post a photo to Instagram with #hintofhealthy!
Orzo Pesto Salad
- 1 cup orzo
- 3 tablespoons pesto
- ½ cup olives Kalamata
- ½ cup canned artichoke hearts drained
- ⅓ cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1 red onion
- 1 ½ cup cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ lemon juiced
- 2 cups spinach washed
- Boil the orzo pasta according to the package instructions. Drain off any excess water, and leave it to cool.1 cup orzo
- Wash and dice the vegetables. Add them to a salad bowl, along with crumbled feta cheese, cooked orzo, and pesto.
- Combine the ingredients well, and serve!
- The recipe serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a light main course.
- Easily omit, add or substitute any ingredients that you like.
- Add shredded chicken or canned chickpeas to make the salad more filling.
- You can also try adding fresh herbs, cucumbers, peppers, mozzarella, or other salad ingredients that you enjoy.
- Store any leftover salad in a refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Food safety tips
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended