Light and fresh Greek Orzo Salad is a delicious lunch or side dish packed with fresh flavors.
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I just love a good pasta salad, especially as a side during the summer months when grilling at the BBQ.
This Greek Orzo Salad can be served cold or warm but I love it best cold.
And while it is a pasta salad recipe, the abundance of vegetables and spinach make it light and refreshing.
This Greek Orzo Pasta Salad is inspired by the classic Greek salad and other popular Mediterranean ingredients.
The classic Greek salad is packed with tomatoes, feta, cucumber, and olives.
When I visited Greece, these amazing and simple flavors were everywhere and oh so delicious.
I add some additional Mediterranean flavors here such as artichokes, spinach, and oregano.
Feel free to eliminate anything you do not want, or to increase the ingredients you love! For me, that means extra olives.
Cooking Pasta for a Salad
I am a big believer in not over cooking pasta to the point of it being too mushy.
Al dente pasta, which literally translates to “to the tooth,” means that there is a little bit of bight or firmness left in the pasta. Not crunchy, but texture.
It is especially important to just slightly undercook a pasta when making a pasta salad.
Since the pasta is naturally going to absorb some of the liquid from the dressing, you want to err just shy of how you want it cooked in the end.
And I love orzo pasta for this recipe as it has a great size and shape. If preferred, you can use any shaped pasta or broken angel hair however you may need to adjust the amount of dressing you make and use to get the right ratio.
Making the Pasta Salad in Advance
I love cooking as much of the food as possible before an event or party.
So to make this Greek Orzo Pasta Salad ahead of time, make the pasta, toss it with all of the mix ins, and chill.
Then make the vinaigrette dressing and store it separately in the refrigerator.
When ready to serve, toss the vinaigrette into the pasta salad and you are all set!
Why wait until serving to toss it?
The pasta will absorb the vinaigrette when made in advance and you will end up with a rather dry pasta salad.
- 3/4 pound orzo pasta (12 ounces)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved or chopped (or grape tomatoes)
- 3/4 cup cucumber chopped
- 1/2 cup red onion chopped
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives (or black olives) sliced
- 1/3 cup artichoke hearts chopped
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled (approx 2 ounces)
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt to taste
- Cook the pasta as per package directions until al dente. Drain and place in a large bowl.
- While the pasta is cooking, dice the mix ins and make the dressing. Cut the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives, and artichoke hearts. Cut the spinach roughly so they are not too large
- To make the dressing, in a small bowl combine the oil, vinegar, mustard, oregano, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. Whisk to combine.
- In the large pasta bowl, combine the pasta, vegetables, cheese, and dressing. Toss to coat.
- Chill pasta until ready to serve.