Mediterranean Orzo Salad – Zesty Pasta Side Dish Recipe

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup English cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (you can substitute with other herbs like dill or mint as well)

Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

  • Cook the pasta: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo according to package directions until al dente. Drain, rinse with cool water, and set aside.
  • Make the vinaigrette: In a small jar or bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  • Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the cooled orzo, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, olives, and parsley.
  • Dress the salad: Pour the lemon vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat evenly.
  • Chill (Optional): For the best flavor, cover and refrigerate the salad for at least 30 minutes before serving. This allows all the flavors to meld together.
  • Serve and enjoy: Taste the salad before serving and adjust seasonings if desired.

Tips:

  • Get creative with additions: Feel free to add other Mediterranean-inspired ingredients like chopped bell peppers, artichoke hearts, pepperoncini, or sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Make ahead: This is a great make-ahead salad. It tastes even better as the flavors marinate, and it will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Use fresh herbs: Fresh herbs brighten up the flavors significantly. Try a mix of parsley, dill, mint, or basil.
  • Adjust the feta: If you find feta too strong, use a milder cheese like crumbled goat cheese.

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