Mediterranean Orzo Salad is a quick 20 minutes side dish or perfect meal prep lunch! Combining all your favorite Mediterranean flavors with a simple delicious Greek salad dressing.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad Recipe
My love for Mediterranean food is no secret at all! Big flavors like sweet tomatoes, fresh herbs, creamy salty feta cheese, briny olives and bold tangy lemon are all common in this amazing cuisine. I wish I had this waiting for me at my dinner table ever night! It’s so fresh and so flavorful and I can never get enough of those flavors.
My taste buds come alive anytime these flavors are combined, especially in this 20 minute Mediterranean orzo salad. Feta cheese, olives, and a zingy dressing fill it with bold flavors. This orzo salad recipe is perfect for summer picnics and cookouts!
The Best Mediterranean Orzo Salad Recipe
I like to make it in the winter to make it feel like the summer. I just love how versatile it is as a simple vegetarian lunch or side next to your protein of your choice for a quick and healthy dinner (check out some ideas below). You can also toss some chicken or shrimp into it to make it a main dish. It’s a big family favorite all year round, and I can’t wait for you to try it!
Orzo pasta is super convenient to cook with because it cooks in about half the time that rice does, and you can eat it hot or cold. It’s a healthy and filling, veggie-packed pasta salad, and of course if you want to make it even healthier you could go with a whole wheat or high fiber orzo, you can also switch up the type of pasta (rotini, macaroni and tortellini are other great options).
What is in Mediterranean Orzo Salad?
- Orzo – this fun rice shaped pasta is perfect for pasta salads. I prefer a smaller size pasta for my salads so orzo is great for that. It’s cute and fun and soaks up all the flavors from the dressing really well!
- Olive Oil and Red Wine Vinegar – once the pasta is cooked it needs to cool before making the salad. To prevent the pasta from sticking together while cooling and to season it, it is tossed with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
- Feta Cheese – this creamy salty cheese is a staple in Mediterranean cooking. I love buying a block of feta in bulk and crumbling it myself. This is not only cost effective but it means I always have a block of feta on hand, what’s not to love about that?!
- Cucumber – crunchy and fresh cucumbers are perfect in this salad. They hold up well and don’t get overly soggy making this a great make ahead salad. Any variety of cucumber can be used. In the summer I love adding cucumbers from the garden!
- Cherry Tomatoes – for this salad we want a tomato with very few seeds and juices in the center or else the tomatoes will release too much water, leaving you with a mushy soggy salad. Cherry or grape tomatoes are perfect as they are cute and little with very few seeds in the center. Simply slice in half and add to the salad.
- You can also use Roma tomatoes or your preferred variety but I recommend deseeding them and dicing into small cubes, about the size of halved cherry tomatoes.
- Red Onion – I love the sharp flavor of red onions. They are commonly used in Mediterranean cooking instead of white or yellow onions. The oil and vinegar based Greek dressing cuts the raw flavor of the onions but you can also soak the sliced onions in ice water for 5 minutes to soften them a bit.
- Kalamata Olives – my favorite variety of olive. The prefect salty flavor and beautiful color to add to this salad.
- Parsley, Oregano, Dill, Salt – the Greek salad dressing served with this salad is already flavor packed but I like adding a few extra herbs and spices into the salad for extra flavor.
Greek Dressing Ingredients
- Red Wine Vinegar – a staple ingredient in Mediterranean cooking. It’s known for its delicious and distinctive tangy flavor. Red wine vinegar is a popular choice for vinaigrettes and is also frequently used in marinades and pickling solutions.
- Lemon Juice – a pop of tangy lemon comes from fresh lemon juice in this salad dressing
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – my preferred oil for salad dressings is EVOO. It has a neutral flavor and is a healthy option when it comes to oil. You can use your preferred neutral oil for this recipe
- Garlic – adding garlic to a salad dressing is a simple way to instantly add an extra layer of flavor. The garlic gets pickled by the vinegar so it does not have an overpowering raw garlic flavor. It is subtle and amazing.
- Oregano, Salt, Pepper – just a few herbs and spices to season this simple Greek salad dressing.
How to Make Mediterranean Orzo Salad?
Full Printable Recipe at Bottom of Page
Prepare the Greek Salad Dressing
For the homemade dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and several grinds of pepper.
You can also use store bought Greek salad dressing.
Prepare the Salad
1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to package directions, or until al dente. Drain the orzo and toss it with 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp vinegar. This will help stop the orzo from sticking together while cooling and it will soak up the flavor from the vinegar. Set aside in the fridge to cool.
2 In a large bowl, toss together the cooked orzo, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, red onion, olives, dill, oregano, salt and half of the parsley.
3 Pour the dressing over the salad and combine.
4 Toss to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5 Garnish with the remaining parsley. Serve and enjoy!
Tips for The Best Mediterranean Orzo Salad
- To save some time, cook the orzo first, meanwhile, work on chopping the rest of the ingredients.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain it well and let it cool briefly.
- It’s ok if the orzo is still a little bit warm when you toss the salad together, this will help it absorb the flavors well.
- Chop the tomatoes and veggies into small chunks. The smaller bites will distribute better in the pasta and will create the perfect texture.
- For best flavor, mix the orzo salad and allow it to rest for 10 – 15 minutes for the flavors to combine. The veggies and orzo will soak up more flavor the longer the salad rests!
Make Ahead and Meal Prep Mediterranean Orzo Salad
This salad is perfect for meal prep and making ahead! Stored in the fridge in air tight containers, this orzo salad will last 3 – 5 days in the fridge. I love making a batch of this salad at the beginning of the week and divide it up into meal prep containers. They make the perfect grab and go lunch or afternoon snack when you are looking for a healthy pick me up!
Try my 3 Course Mediterranean Inspired Dinner!
Serve this flavor packed salad with some of my favorite Mediterranean Recipes for an amazing dinner!
- Greek Pork Souvlaki – one of my favorite BBQ skewers! Flavor packed pork marinated with lemon, garlic and aromatic spices. The meat is tender, moist and perfect served in a wrap or on a plate.
- Tzatziki Sauce – one of the most simple and delicious sauces! Tangy greek yogurt seasoned with dill, garlic, lemon and packed with fresh shredded cucumber.
- Baklava – combines citrus, cinnamon, honey soaked layers of flaky crispy phyllo pastry with spiced nuts. It is the perfect sweet treat to finish off a meal.
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, may earn me a small commission.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
- 2 cucumbers, English, halved vertically, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cup Feta cheese , cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- ⅓ cup red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
- 1 tsp dried dill
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp minced fresh parsley, plus more for topping
- 1 cup Greek salad dressing, homemade or store bought
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to package directions, or until al dente. Drain the orzo and toss it with 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp vinegar. This will help stop the orzo from sticking together while cooling and it will soak up the flavour from the vinegar. Set aside in the fridge to cool.
- For the homemade dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and several grinds of pepper.
- In a large bowl, toss together the cooked orzo, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, red onion, olives, dill, oregano, salt and half of the parsley.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and combine.
- Toss to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with the remaining parsley. Serve and enjoy!