Orzo Pasta Salad

4.94 from 16 votes

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There’s a secret to making my refreshing summertime Orzo Pasta Salad and that is freshly squeezed orange juice. The 🍊 orange juice gives this salad a bright taste with a hint of sweetness. For an even more citrusy flavor, I encourage you to also add orange zest to this dish. Whenever I serve this salad, I’m bombarded with questions on how to make it. Now that you know my secret, please give it a try this ☀️ summer when you’re hosting or bring it along to a summer BBQ. I promise this salad will be the first to disappear from the table.

Why You’ll Love Orzo Pasta Salad

This salad has such a great bright 🍊 citrusy flavor that’s beautifully absorbed by the tender orzo pasta. It’s a beautiful blend of textures as well, with a nice crunch from crispy summery produce and creamy feta cheese. Fresh 🫒 olives add a great briny flavor that pairs perfectly with fresh parsley and dried oregano. The tastes of an 🇮🇹 Italian summer!

How to Prepare Orzo Pasta Salad

🔥 In a pot on the stove, boil the orzo pasta in salted water as per the package directions for al dente.

💦 Strain the orzo and let it cool completely.

🫑 Now, using a sharp knife, finely dice the cucumbers, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion and parsley and add to a bowl.

🍊 Add 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice to the bowl.

🫒 Add the cooled pasta and 1/4 cup olive oil to the bowl.

🧂 Stir well and season with salt and the dried oregano.

🥣 Add the feta and olives, if using, and then toss everything together.

Nonna’s Tip 🍊

The boiling water should be as salty as the sea as it’s your only chance to flavor the orzo.

Orzo Pasta Salad
Orzo Pasta Salad

Variations and Substitutions for Orzo Pasta Salad

  1. You can use any small pasta shape, pastina, tortellini, or even couscous for this recipe.
  2. Feel free to add a protein to this Orzo Pasta Salad such as grilled chicken breast pieces, tofu or shrimp 🍤.
  3. For a higher-protein alternative to orzo, this salad will work beautifully with quinoa too.
  4. Play with the herbs in this dish and try 🌿 basil, thyme or mint instead of parsley.
  5. Make this salad gluten-free by using your favorite gluten-free pasta instead.

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Common Questions

Can this salad be made ahead?

Yes, this Orzo Pasta Salad holds up really well in the fridge for up to 2 days and is best when served at room temperature.

what can I use instead of orzo?

You can use any small pasta shape, pastina, tortellini, or even couscous or quinoa for this recipe.

What can I use instead of parsley?

Use any of your favorite herbs in this Orzo Pasta Salad, such as basil, thyme, and mint.

can I add protein to this salad?

You can certainly add protein to this Orzo Pasta Salad. Try grilled chicken pieces, tofu, or shrimp. You could also swap the orzo for quinoa as well.

can I make this salad gluten-free?

Absolutely feel free to use your favorite gluten-free pasta here instead.

Orzo Pasta Salad

This salad has crunch from summery produce, like bell pepper, cucumber, and onion, creaminess from feta, and salt and flavor from olives, fresh parsley, and dried oregano. It is the perfect summer dish.
4.94 from 16 votes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 bag orzo , 340 grams/12 ounces
  • ¼ cup olive oil , to taste
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 mini cucumbers, finely diced
  • 2 tomatoes, finely diced
  • ½ bell pepper, finely diced
  • ½ red onion, finely diced (I soaked mine in water for 20 minutes to make it milder, then drain)
  • ½ cup fresh parsley , finely diced
  • ½ tablespoon dry oregano, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta, measure with your heart
  • ¼ cup sliced olives , optional

Instructions 

  • Boil the orzo pasta in boiling salted water as per the package directions.
  • Strain the orzo and let it cool completely. Add the olive oil, orange juice, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, parsley, and oregano to a large bowl. Add the cooled pasta. Stir well and season with salt. Mix in the feta and olives, if using.
  • Enjoy!

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 641kcal, Carbohydrates: 100g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Sodium: 839mg, Potassium: 828mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 1738IU, Vitamin C: 56mg, Calcium: 142mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

4.94 from 16 votes (11 ratings without comment)

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23 Comments

  1. Good Morning! I’d love to know the brand of Olive oil you use in this recipe ? Love all your recipes!!

    1. Hi love, I love ANY good quality organic olive oil from COSTCO or Acropolis Organics too. Any Greek organic olive oil.

  2. This is my go to summer recipe for the second year now. It’s such an adaptable recipe and you can substitute or add anything. I love it as is but sometimes I’ll use a different kind of olive or ill a different juice (e.g. lemon) or even a wine vinegar. Modern Nonna has become the first place I go to now when I need a recipe.

  3. 5 stars
    Light and fun summer salad! Using orange juice was a fun twist. Overall a pretty mild, pleasant flavor.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this as a side dish for dinner. I opted for no parsley as I don’t care for it. I used the tablespoon of oregano but for my taste it was too much and too bitter. I’ll probably use less next time. I also used 1/8 tsp of fresh thyme, and did put a handful of Callamata olives in mine. Overall it was very tasty and refreshing. I’ll probably just tweak it a little differently next time.

    1. Some oregano could be stronger than other brands depending so definitely adjust to taste 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    So refreshing and east to make! This is going to be a staple in my house! Thank you!