This fresh lemon orzo pasta salad is a flavorful mix of orzo pasta, lemon, cucumber, salty feta, and fresh herbs. Easy and delicious, this quick pasta salad recipe is a crowd-pleasing side dish and a classic Summer favorite. Vegetarian and gluten free friendly.
A Bright and Fresh Summer Pasta Salad
This Greek-inspired orzo pasta salad is one of those incredibly simple and unassuming recipes that has wound its way into our back pocket, edging out fancier, more complicated fare, time and again.
Reading: Lemon orzo salad with feta
Especially in the summer, when the weather is ripe for languishing, inspiration feels most elusive, and it’s certainly too hot to turn on the oven. When I want something light and fresh, with zippy, bright flavors, but can’t be all that bothered to spend a lot of time cooking.
Cue this light and refreshing orzo pasta salad. Boiling pasta and chopping some veggies is about the extent of the cooking here and yet the flavors are sublime.
The orzo pasta is tossed with olive oil, fresh lemon (juice and zest), chopped cucumber, a big handful of herbs, and salty feta for an easy summer salad that makes a delicious and versatile barbecue or pot-luck side dish.
Why you’ll love this orzo pasta salad
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For a pasta salad that is undeniably simple, this combination of flavors and textures is brimming with complexity.
Crunchy cucumber, bright, tart lemon, creamy, salty, crumbly feta cheese, herb-y freshness from mint and parsley. And, the orzo pasta, which, while warm from a quick, salty boil, with its ever so al dente chew, soaks up the most basic lemon-olive oil dressing, further ensuring that every bite of this pasta packs a delicious punch.
It’s balanced, fresh and bright, and you’ll want to eat it all summer long.
Orzo Pasta Salad Ingredients
As with most pasta salads, things are flexible. You can easily add whatever you like best and have on hand. This is my favorite combination (think of it as a blueprint), and here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- orzo: forms the base of this easy pasta salad. This small, rice-like pasta shape is perfect for a chopped salad like this, where you want little bits of each flavor in every bite.
- olive oil: since we’re not cooking the olive oil, I like to use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
- lemon: to add brightness and acidity, we’ll use both fresh lemon juice and zest. If you can find Meyer lemons, they’re my favorite here.
- cucumber: adds so much freshness and crunch. Either chopped English cucumber or small Persian cucumbers work well.
- feta: big crumbles of feta add a salty, creamy richness.
- fresh herbs: mint and parsley are my go-tos for a fresh, light, Mediterranean-inspired flavor. Fresh basil and dill are also lovely.
- salt and pepper: as always, taste as you go, and season generously along the way with Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
Find all the exact measurements and recipe instructions below.
What is orzo?
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Orzo is a tiny rice shaped pasta. Its name comes from the Italian word for “barley” because it resembles the small grain. It’s wonderful in soups, cheesy baked pasta dishes, and of course, pasta salad.
My favorite is from DeLallo, and there are gluten-free versions available as well.
How to make this quick orzo pasta salad:
This healthy pasta salad comes together quickly in a few easy steps. Here’s how you make it:
- Cook the orzo al dente in a large pot of generously salted water.
- While the orzo cooks, zest and juice the lemon, and chop the cucumbers and herbs.
- Toss the warm cooked pasta with olive oil and lemon juice in a large bowl, then combine with the veggies, herbs, and feta. Be sure to season well!
Simple as can be. Packed with summer-y goodness and perfect for sharing. Enjoy!!
More Summer-y side dishes to make next:
- Summer squash grain salad with feta and corn
- Healthy broccoli salad with lemon tahini dressing
- Roasted tomato caprese pasta salad
If you make this lemon orzo pasta salad recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #forkknifeswoon and leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it! ★★★★★ Star ratings are especially helpful because they help others find my recipes too. xo, Laura
Originally published May 23, 2013. Updated with new photos and recipe notes.
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