best orzo salad recipe

First of all, I’m so excited that you’re so excited about the new Cookie + Kate app! I had no idea that you wanted an app so badly (why didn’t you tell me?!), but I’m happy that I have one for you now. Please tell your friends and family about the app, and I’ll add more recipes to it soon!

To celebrate, I’m sharing this fresh, bright and irresistible orzo salad recipe. It’s bursting with Mediterranean flavors—juicy orange, parsley, toasted almonds, crumbled feta and Kalamata olives.

I don’t use oranges nearly as often as I use lemon and lime, but this salad reminds me not to overlook those sweet, quiet oranges, especially while they’re in season.

orange orzo salad ingredients

This orzo salad was also a lesson in pasta salads. First lesson? You must rinse the pasta immediately after cooking it so it doesn’t get sticky and lopsided. Adding some of the starchy cooking water to the dressing adds body to the salad, while keeping the oil content in check.

Let the salad marinate for at least 10 minutes, so flavors have time to meld and the pasta has time to absorb some of the moisture. It doesn’t taste all that special until it’s had a little rest, and then it tastes spectacular. Trust me!

If you are an olive hater or raisin hater, just omit those parts. The salad still works well without them, although I like it best as written. You can also omit the feta to make this a vegan salad. It’s so good, however you make it.

This salad was inspired by a salad offered in the deli at a local grocery store called Hen House. Which is to suggest that it packs great for lunch (and picnics, I imagine), and keeps well for several days in the fridge.

As always, please let me know how you like it. If you’re looking for more fresh salads, here they are!

orzo salad recipe close-up

mediterranean orzo salad with orange parsley almonds in bowls

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Orange Orzo Salad with Almonds, Feta and Olives

  • Author: Cookie and Kate
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes (plus 10 minutes for marinating)
  • Yield: 6 side servings 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

4.9 from 55 reviews

The best orzo salad recipe, featuring bright, fresh Mediterranean flavors! This healthy salad includes whole grain orzo, fresh parsley, toasted almonds, crumbled feta, green onion and Kalamata olives. Recipe yields 6 side servings.

Scale

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole wheat orzo pasta (I used DeLallo brand)
  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • ½ cup chopped green onion
  • ½ cup raisins, preferably golden
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (from 1 to 2 oranges, preferably organic)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Before draining, reserve roughly ½ cup pasta cooking water. Drain, and immediately rinse the orzo under cold running water until the orzo is no longer warm. Drain well.
  2. Toast the almonds in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and turning golden on the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a cutting board and chop them.
  3. In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked orzo, chopped almonds, parsley, olives, green onion, raisins, and feta (if using).
  4. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine the orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and salt. Add ¼ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water, and whisk until blended.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. It might seem like too much dressing at first, but don’t worry. Season with pepper, to taste.
  6. Let the orzo salad rest for at least 10 minutes (or up to several hours in the refrigerator) so it has time to soak up the dressing. Season to taste with additional salt, if necessary, and serve. Leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Notes

Recipe inspired by a salad offered at Hen House grocery stores. 

Make it gluten free: Substitute small gluten-free pasta noodles for the orzo.
Make it vegan/dairy free: Simply omit the feta cheese. You might want to add a few extra olives to make up for feta’s saltiness.
Make it nut free: Omit the almonds, or try using pepitas instead.

▸ Nutrition Information

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.