This healthy orzo salad recipe is FULL of bright, fresh, summery flavor… Gorgeous red and yellow cherry tomatoes, bright parsley, and vibrant basil, along with a dose of fresh lemon zest and juice marry together to make the perfect side dish to share at your next gathering!
Orzo Salad for A Crowd
If you make just one recipe for your next cookout, it has to be this orzo salad! It’s one of those go-to, back pocket recipes that you can always count on in a pinch. Just a few reasons why it’s one of my faves:
1| It makes a BIG batch, which is perfect for a crowd. But if you’re not feeding a crowd? It refrigerates well for several days. And trust me, you will have NO problem finishing it all off.
2| It’s packed full of fresh vibrant flavors that make it an ideal easy side dish or salad year round. But it’s especially delicious in summer when those juicy little cherry tomatoes are in peak season.
3| And finally, it can really stand up to the heat. When potato salads and macaroni salads filled with mayo are starting to appear a little suspect, this refreshing orzo salad is still hanging tough.
Don’t be surprised when you see guests heading back for seconds… and then even thirds. It’s THAT good! I certainly wouldn’t count on having any leftovers to take home.
Summery Orzo Pasta Salad
This lemony basil orzo pasta salad is perfect this time of year. It highlights all of the great summery flavors that you can buy fresh right now — gorgeous red and yellow cherry tomatoes, bright parsley, and vibrant basil, along with a healthy dose of fresh lemon zest and juice.
It’s the type of summer salad that only gets better as the flavors marry together while it chills. So it’s the perfect side to make earlier in the day for an evening gathering.
Not familiar with orzo? It looks very similar to rice, but it’s actually a rice-shaped pasta. Orzo means “barley” in Italian, referring to the small, barley-like shape. I’ve tried several kinds of orzo, and I always come back to the DeLallo brand. I can count on it to cook up perfectly al dente, without a trace of the mushiness I’ve found with some other brands. Kroger and Walmart carry it around here, and I always grab several packages when I see it on sale to keep on hand.
Speaking of cooking orzo pasta, I always follow the cooking instructions from the DeLallo package, which I’ve outlined in the recipe directions. I know a quarter cup of salt sounds like a ton, but it gives the orzo massive flavor, and most of the salt stays behind in the water. When you use this method, you really shouldn’t have to add much additional seasoning to the finished orzo salad.
Orzo Salad Recipe
While I adore this orzo salad as is, you can also add a 4-oz. container of crumbled feta cheese for more of a Mediterranean orzo salad. Or even turn it into a main dish by adding some sliced grilled chicken breast on top, which would also make this a fabulous meal prep recipe. Either way, just make it ASAP — I promise you won’t be sorry you did!
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Greek Orzo Salad
If you love orzo salad recipes, I think you’ll also adore this Greek orzo salad! Dressed in the same lemony vinaigrette, it’s filled with cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, cucumber, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives with a punch of fresh parsley and mint.
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If you like this easy orzo for a crowd, you might also like these other cookout side dish recipes: