A gorgeous Mediterranean Orzo Salad made with fresh spinach, sundried tomatoes, salty kalamata olives, savory feta cheese, crunchy cucumbers and toasted pine nuts tossed in a simple balsamic vinaigrette.
It wouldn’t be a lie if I told you I make this orzo salad several times a month. Seriously, I’m so addicted to the mediterranean flavors that make up this dish, I could probably eat it everday. It’s light and filling with the right combination of flavors. It’s a zesty salad that’s perfect as a main dish or as a side.
Even though we’re nearing the end of summer, I still love a good salad. One that satisfies without leaving you overfull – a lighter meal that can also double as a savory side dish.
This Mediterranean Orzo Salad is one such dish. It’s brimming with freshness and flavor and it all begins with the pasta.
I use orzo pasta which is a short-cut pasta that resembles a puffy grain of rice. Orzo cooks up just like your typical pasta and is totally perfect in this salad. The flavors of the other ingredients are so robust, I don’t want to distract from them. The orzo is lighter, more subtle and in my opinion, the perfect pasta for this salad.
After the orzo cooks and cools, I add in chopped fresh spinach and tangy red onions. Then, I mix in chopped sundried tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, garlic, toasted pine nuts and crumbled feta cheese. Each ingredient adding it’s own unique flavor and texture to the dish.
I love the flavor of fresh dill and find it works well here. So, I add it along with fresh parsley, basil and black pepper.
Finally, I whisk together a simple balsamic vinaigrette consisting of equal parts of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle this over the top and give the salad a good toss.
One great thing about this salad is that it lends well to substitutions or additions too. Toss in your favorite vegetable for added flavor. Although not needed, red, yellow or orange peppers would be nice additions or a chopped jalapeno would give the salad a spicy bite.
This recipe is definitely a keeper. It will make a lovely showing on your dinner table and even the leftovers are fantastic the next day. It’s a healthy bowl of goodness that I’m sure you’ll enjoy making as much as I do.
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Mediterranean Orzo Salad
- 1 16-ounce package uncooked orzo pasta
- 1 10-ounce package baby spinach leaves , finely chopped
- 3/4 cup feta cheese , crumbled
- 1 medium cucumber , peeled and diced
- 1/2 red onion , finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/3 cup Italian Parsley , chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill , finely chopped
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes , chopped
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives , sliced
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for about 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.
- Toss the spinach, feta, cucumber, red onion, garlic, pine nuts, basil, black pepper, parsley and dill in a large bowl. Add the orzo and stir well.
- Whisk together the balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl.
- Pour over the orzo salad and toss.
- Top with sun-dried tomatoes and olives.
- Refrigerate and serve cold.
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