The best crowd-pleasing Greek Orzo Salad. Quick and easy to make. It can be made in advance and chilled in the refrigerator. A versatile recipe, perfect with lunch, dinner or on its own. Works very well as a packed lunch. Colourful and pretty, perfect for a potluck platter to feed a crowd. I always make a big batch of this salad, as it keeps well in the refrigerator and only gets better the following day.
What is Orzo?
It is pasta. Usually made from durum wheat or white flour. It looks very similar to rice. The size, shape and texture are very similar to that of rice.
How to cook Orzo?
When making a cold pasta salad, such as this one, first lightly toast the orzo in a skillet. Not to colour the pasta with the roasting process. Lightly dry roasting it releases a somewhat nutty flavour in the orzo. Then, boil using the packet instructions, but reduce the cooking time. Do not overcook the orzo, or it will turn to mush. Leaving the pasta al dente, i.e. with a bite to it works beautifully in the salad.
Does Orzo expand when cooked?
Yes, since it is a pasta, it can expand and soak up a lot of liquid. Unfortunately, it can turn to mush very quickly if overcooked. It can expand up to 8 times its original size when used in soups or casseroles.
Should you serve Orzo hot or cold?
You can serve Orzo just like any other pasta. It can be hot or cold. Orzo is fabulous on its own as a main meal or a side dish. Whether you use it in salads, soups or casseroles. Substitute orzo in rice salad recipes and even in selective desserts.
How to prepare the salad ahead of time?
Cook the pasta as per instructions, drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drizzle a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the pasta and a little sprinkling of mixed herbs. Toss well to coat all the pieces. Store in an air-tight container or a glass mixing bowl, sealed with cling film. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Can be made 24 hours in advance. Combine with fresh salad ingredients as required.
Should you rinse orzo?
When making a cold salad, such as this, it is best to rinse off the starch before use. I would rinse orzo before using in a stir fry but not when using with a pasta sauce. When orzo is being used with a sauce, it needs the starch for the sauce to stick. It is best not to rinse after boiling the orzo when you have a sauce.
Can you freeze orzo?
It can be frozen just like any other pasta. I like to cook my pasta fresh, so I have never frozen it. If you have experience of freezing pasta, I would love to hear your advice in the comments below. Here are some tips for freezing cooked pasta by Kitchn.
What can I eat with the Greek Orzo salad to make it a meal?
If you are having a Greek-themed lunch or dinner, add some falafels, a toasted pita bread with some hummus and some garlicky roasted potato wedges. Whether you have the salad with falafels or kebabs, it is a moorishly addictive salad and you will go back for seconds.
What do I do with leftovers?
Pack it in an airtight container and refrigerate for your lunch at work the next day.
Greek Orzo SaladCourse: Salads, VegetarianCuisine: MediterraneanDifficulty: Easy
The best crowd-pleasing Greek Orzo Salad. Quick and easy to make and the quantities are adjustable based on what you have to hand. The ingredients below are not specific, but give an idea of what to add to the salad.
1 cup dried orzo pasta, cooked al dente and set aside
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halve some of the tomatoes, leaving some intact
Half an English cucumber, sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 orange pepper, chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
2 cups of fresh rocket salad or arugula leaves (see notes below)
100gms feta cheese, cubed or crumbled (adjust to taste)
1/2 cup sweetcorn (optional)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp good quality Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp of dried oregano
1/2 tsp of dried mixed herbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp red chilli flakes or cayenne pepper (optional, to taste – see notes below)
- Cook the Orzo as per packet instructions, but reduce the cooking time. It is imperative the pasta remains al dente – still has a bite to it and does not turn to mush. Drain the pasta and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of mixed herbs on the orzo. Mix well to coat all the pasta graines. Set aside until ready to use. This can be made a day in advance and kept refrigerated.
- Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small jar, and shake well. Keep aside.
- Chop up and combine the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Everything should be a similar bite size.
- Combine the salad ingrdients with the orzo, along with the dressing. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. (see notes below)
- You can substitute the rocket salad with any type of lettuce of your choice. I love the peppery crunchiness of Arugula or rocket salad so used that in this recipe.
- I use red chilli flakes or cayenne pepper in the dressing, as we love our food a little spiced up. Yes, even salads! It is totally optional, and do not use it when making food child-friendly.
- Refrigerating the salad for at least a couple of hours before serving really helps the flavours to marry up. The resting time helps the flavours build and chills the salad perfectly whilst retaining its freshness.