Summer Orzo Pasta Salad

Summer is here! Warm weather means lots of salads, especially pasta salads. I find pasta salads really easy to make, because lets be honest, in the summer I would rather be outside enjoying the weather.ย  In Chicago you only get a few months of Vitamin D to enjoy.

Orzo Pasta Salad

I usually make my pasta salads on Sundays when we grill out and then eat the leftovers during the week for lunch.

Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is one that I like making in the summer. I am a big fan of orzo pasta and putting chickpeas in my salads for that added protein.ย  The flavors of this salad mixed with the light dressing and mint make it a refreshing and flavorful dish.

Orzo Pasta Salad

I don’t know about you but I am thankful for summer and all of the salads that come with it!

Summer Orzo Pasta Salad

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 6-8

A light, refreshing pasta salad that is perfect for a summer BBQ or picnic.
  • Salad
  • ½ cucumber, chopped
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1½ cups orzo
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups red teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ¾ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing:
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. For the salad:
  2. Put broth in a large pot and cover. Bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in orzo.
  3. Cover partially and cook until the orzo is tender (6-8 minutes) stirring frequently.
  4. Drain orzo and place in a large mixing bowl. Let the orzo cool completely.
  5. While the orzo is cooling make the dressing.
  6. To make the dressing:
  7. In a food processor or blender mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper until mixed well.
  8. While the machine is running gradually add in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Once the orzo is cooled mix the orzo with the chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, basil and mint.
  10. Add a ¼ cup of the red wine vinaigrette dressing to the salad and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
  11. When ready to eat you might want to add the remaining dressing and mix well. I tend to take the salad out of the refrigerator and test the salad to see if it needs additional dressing. When the salad sits it tends to absorb the dressing so it helps to add more.
This recipe makes a nice, big salad for a group. If you are not feeding a grow pot 6-8 you might want to half the recipe.
Make sure you do not add the entire dressing to the salad right away, or it will be too much. I add the ¼ cup of the dressing and let it sit to soak up the dressing. I then taste the salad and if it needs it I will add more.

Adapted from Giada de Laurentis


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  1. says

    Chicago summers definitely are too short, but you make up for it with a beautiful Fall! I miss it! Now that I’m in Mississippi, we don’t have a Fall season, really. Just summer and, well, cooler summer. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Pasta salad looks GREAT!

    • Julia says

      So glad to hear it! I agree–the fresh herbs are what sets is apart! Thanks for letting me know that you liked it. :)

  2. Katie says

    How funny – I just pinned this and it’s your site! Making this for the Glennon crew this weekend. Looks awesome, and the mint it totally a flash back to Grandpa’s gardens. Love your site!

  3. says

    Hi, Julie!
    I just made your Summer Orzo Pasta Salad and it is delicious! I love the fresh basil and mint with the cucumbers and tomato-definitely refreshing! This was my first time cooking with orzo…easy recipe to follow…The red wine vinegar and lemon were very pronounced in the dressing for my taste; I tempered it with more honey. I can’t wait to discover and try more from A Cedar Spoon! – Beverly
    Beverly recently posted..Journey MapMy Profile

    • Julia says

      Thanks Beverly! I am so glad you liked this salad! I love the fresh vegetables and the basil and mint too. Such a wonderful summer salad.

  4. Abby says

    Thank you for this super recipe! It’s 10 degrees outside & we’re in the midst of a snowstorm. This sunny, fresh & yummy recipe is just what I needed to warm things up! It’s absolutely delicious!

  5. Penelope says

    I made this last night. It was VERY flavorful, but wow…the dressing? WAY too much. My salad was literally swimming in it. I think I’ll just half it next time, but this is a keeper and will be going into my recipe book. The fresh herbs really do make the difference.

    • Julia says

      Thanks for the feedback! I think that you probably put all of the dressing on the salad at one time? That would definitely be too much dressing. In the directions I say to use 1/4 cup of the dressing but it might not have been clear. I went into the recipe to update it so it is more clear as to what to do with the dressing. When I make this I use 1/4 cup of the dressing and let it sit in the refrigerator. When I am ready to eat the salad I try it and if it needs more dressing I add more of the dressing that I have saved.

      • Penelope says

        I confess that I did go against your recipe instructions. *Braces for backlash* LOL But yes, I did add it all at once, so I guess that’s why it looked like so much. I made it just for me to eat on for the week, so I may just half it next time if I’m gonna continue to go against the grain and add it all at once. LOL But again, this recipe is AWESOME!!! It has replaced my old faithful favorite couscous salad recipe. I have pinned it and shared it with others. Thanks for sharing!

        • Julia says

          Thanks Penelope! I bet if you let it sit overnight with all of the dressing on it, it would soak it up and taste perfect. But either way I am so glad you liked it. I also appreciate the feedback. I am always looking for ways to improve recipes and make the directions more clear. Hope you find more recipes you like. :)

  6. Denise says

    This is my new favorite recipe!!! So easy and versatile. I planned on making this to eat on half the week and spaghetti the rest of the week, so I decided to use barley instead of orzo pasta. I didn’t want to eat two pasta dishes. The barley went great with the recipe. I also used ACV instead of Red Wine Vinegar because I didn’t have enough. Tasting the dressing, that I eyeballed the measurements, it seemed too pungent. But once I added half of it to the pasta and tasted it, it was actually very good. I will definitely be making this again. Maybe I’ll try Orzo next time :)

    • Julia says

      Hi Denise. Thanks for the feedback! I love hearing when people make my recipes and what they changed. The barley idea is a great one. I think I might just have to try that this summer. I have some in the pantry. I agree that the dressing at first glance sounds like it might be too strong but once you dress half the salad, let it sit, and add the rest, it tastes great in the salad. I hope you try the orzo next time and like it.

  7. Marcia says

    Good morning! Just found your recipe through Oh My Veggies email and I”m looking forward to trying it! My question is about the amount of olive oil in the dressing. I would be cutting the recipe in half because there are only 2 of us to I realize that would bring the amount down to 1/2 a cup, but it’s still a lot of oil.

    My husband recently had a heart attack and the doctor told him to cut way back on his fat intake, which means the feta would have to be left out also. Do you have any suggestions for me? This no fat routine is new to me and I am having a hard time coming up with ways to change recipes to suit us. Thank you for any suggestions you provide, Marcia

    • Julia says

      Hi Marcia! I am sorry to hear about your husband and I hope he is recovering ok. I think this salad would still be great without the feta cheese. It definitely adds a creamy texture but is not needed. As far as the olive oil I also think you can cut down on that. For this recipe I use half of the oil when you first make it and then the remaining olive oil is added after the salad has been refrigerated. My suggestion is you use a salad dressing container and make the dressing beforehand to test it and make sure you like the way it tastes. I actually think that red wine vinegar can be upped in the recipe, it will just have a bit of a different taste instead of being olive oil based. Also, sometimes adding more herbs helps with the taste of the salad if you can’t use a lot of oil. Let me know if this makes sense and if you have any additional questions! I hope you like it and it works nicely for you.

  8. Marcia says

    Good morning Julia, thanks for getting back to me so quickly and for your kind words about my (wonderful) husband! He is now back at work and doing better all the time.

    I have printed your response out and will attach it to the recipe. I like your suggestions (love red wine vinegar!!), and will play with the recipe to get taste that works for us.


    • Julia says

      I am glad to hear he is doing well! And let me know how the salad turns out and what you do to it! :) Have a great day.

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