Italian Orzo Salad

$8.77 recipe / $2.19 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.94 from 15 votes
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Another day, another salad! I try to make some sort of salad each week that I can build meals on or just eat as a quick meal on its own when I’m on the go. If there’s already a salad made, I’m way more likely to actually eat it. I love combining a little pasta, a lot of vegetables, and maybe some beans too. This combo always makes a salad that is filling enough to serve as a light meal, but light enough to act as a side dish for one of my dinners. This Italian Orzo Salad is no exception. Italian Orzo Salad on a plate with a piece of garlic bread on the side.

Substitutions

Orzo – Orzo can be a bit more difficult to find than other pastas, but you can substitute any small-shaped pasta in its place. Homemade Vinaigrette – If you don’t feel like putting together your own vinaigrette for this salad, feel free to use your favorite bottled Italian style dressing, adding as much or as little to the salad as you prefer. Grape Tomatoes – I wouldn’t suggest using a larger fresh tomato in this salad unless you plan to make and serve this salad the same day. Larger tomatoes are juicier and will have more cut edges, which will seep more water as the salad is stored. Oil-packed sun dried tomatoes would also be awesome in this, if you can find them for an affordable price. Garbanzo Beans – Cannellini beans would make an excellent substitution, and would fit the Italian theme.

Add-Ins

If you’re not concerned about keeping this Italian Orzo Salad vegan, Parmesan cheese would be awesome on this salad, as would fresh mozzarella, or even diced salami. Front view of Italian Orzo Salad with a piece of garlic bread.
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Italian Orzo Salad

4.94 from 15 votes
Filling enough to serve as a light meal, but light enough to act as an easy side dish, this Italian Orzo Salad is a versatile addition to your weekly meal prep. 
Filling enough to serve as a light meal, but light enough to act as an easy side dish, this Italian Orzo Salad is a versatile addition to your weekly meal prep. Budgetbytes.com
Servings 4 about 1.25 cups each
Prep 15 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 25 mins

Ingredients

Italian Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil ($0.64)
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar ($0.20)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon Juice ($0.05)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend* ($0.10)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard ($0.03)
  • 1 tsp sugar ($0.02)

Salad

  • 1 cup orzo (uncooked) ($1.15)
  • 1 15oz. can chickpeas ($0.55)
  • 4 oz. fresh spinach ($0.60)
  • 2 roasted red peppers (1/2 of 12oz. jar) ($1.00)
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives ($1.00)
  • 1/2 12oz. jar quartered artichoke hearts ($1.40)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes ($1.99)

Instructions 

  • Make the vinaigrette first so the flavors have time to blend. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Italian seasoning blend, garlic powder, salt, Dijon, and sugar in a bowl or jar. Whisk the ingredients together or close the jar and shake until combined. Set the dressing aside.
  • Cook the orzo according to the package directions (boil until tender). Drain the orzo in a colander and rinse briefly with cool water. Allow the orzo to cool and drain as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. You want the pasta to be as cool and dry as possible.
  • Rinse and drain the can of chickpeas, again allowing them to drain very well as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • Roughly chop the spinach and place it in a large bowl. Remove the roasted red peppers, olives, and artichoke hearts from their brines. Slice the olives and roasted red peppers, and roughly chop the artichoke hearts. Slice the grape tomatoes in half. Place the chopped vegetables in the bowl with the spinach.
  • Finally, add the drained orzo and chickpeas to the bowl with the other ingredients. Stir the vinaigrette once more, then add half to the bowl. Toss the salad ingredients together until coated, and add more dressing if desired (I used the entire batch, but it's always best to start with half and add more as needed).

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Notes

*If you do not have an Italian herb seasoning blend, you can substitute a 1/4 tsp of each of the following: basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary, plus a pinch of red pepper flakes.
**For longer storage in the refrigerator, toss the salad ingredients together without the dressing and add the dressing to each bowl just before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.25CupsCalories: 450.5kcalCarbohydrates: 56.08gProtein: 13.13gFat: 20.9gSodium: 737mgFiber: 12.43g
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A hand taking a forkful of Italian Orzo Salad from a plate. Garlic Bread on the side.

How to Make Italian Orzo Salad – Step by Step Photos

Italian Vinaigrette Make the vinaigrette first, so the flavors have time to blend (or use your favorite bottled Italian dressing). Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend, 1/8 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, and 1/2 tsp sugar in a bowl or jar. Whisk the ingredients together or place the lid on the jar and shake until combined. Set the dressing aside. Cooked Orzo for Italian Orzo Salad Cook one cup orzo according to the package directions (boil until tender) then drain in a colander. Rinse briefly with cool water, then let it drain and cool as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Also rinse and drain the chickpeas. It’s best if these two ingredients are not very wet (or hot) when you assemble the salad, or they’ll wilt the spinach and water down the dressing. Chopped Spinach for Italian Orzo Salad Roughly chop about 4 oz. fresh spinach. You don’t have to stress over the exact measurement of this, just eyeball half of an 8 oz. bag of spinach. Place the chopped spinach in a large bowl. Chopped kalamata olives and roasted red peppers on the cutting board Slice about 1/3 cup kalamata olives and slice 2 roasted red peppers (about 1/2 of a 12 oz. jar). Add these to the bowl with the spinach. Chopped Artichoke Hearts Roughly chop the quartered artichoke hearts (again I used about 1/2 of a 12 oz. jar). Add these to the bowl with the other ingredients. Sliced Tomatoes for Italian Orzo Salad Slice the grape tomatoes in half, and add them to the bowl. Italian Orzo Salad Ingredients Finally, add the cooled and drained orzo and chickpeas to the bowl. Add Dressing to Italian Orzo Salad If you plan on keeping the salad in the fridge for a few days, toss the salad ingredients together then store it that way, without the dressing. If serving immediately, stir the vinaigrette once more, then add half to the salad and toss to combine. Add more dressing if desired (I added all of the dressing). Bird's eye view of Italian Orzo Salad on a plate with a piece of garlic bread. And that’s it! I served my Italian Orzo Salad with two slices of my Freezer Garlic Bread on the side. ;)  

Check out these other great salads

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  1. Lovely summer pasta salad! I added sliced cucumber and some fresh parsley and basil because my herb pots are producing really well this year. I also add the spinach before serving so it doesn’t wilt down as much. I served it with grilled chicken. This recipe is a keeper.

  2. i’ve loved this recipe for years! I can’t eat beans or legumes, so I’ve subbed feta cheese instead of chickpeas. I also use double the artichokes before I just love ’em.

  3. This recipe is so good, i tend to crave it! Try to find the orzo, it adds the best ummm, i think texture (?) To this salad!!!

  4. This is a really tasty and satisfying salad. I made it as meal prep for my lunches during the work week. I had a super busy week planned and I wanted to be sure I had something that I could grab quickly, and that was healthy, filling and nutritious. This definitely fit the bill. I added some salami to up the protein a bit. I’ll definitely be making this again.

  5. Just wanted to let you know that I pretty much alternate between this and the cucumber/black bean salad all summer…for the last three summers. (And I don’t like peppers, raw tomatoes, or olives so I use sun-dried tomatoes and capers.) Thank you!

  6. Awesome dish especially in this summer heat! Just prepped this for lunch this week and it’s really tasty, fresh, refreshing and flavorful. I can tell it’s filling while still being light for summer. 

    DO let the dressing sit a little bit as suggested! 

    I used extra virgin olive oil and had to add more red wine vinegar because it was a bit strong but it might depend on oil or vinegar brand so definitely play around to taste to your liking. I might think try regular olive oil next time.  

  7. This is delicious! I added leftover rotisserie chicken and baby mozzarella balls and I could eat this all week. I dont normally eat things repeatedly but this is so good. My husband is not a fan but I guess Ill just have to make him something else the next time I make this because I am for sure making it again before the end of the summer. Its even better the next day when everything gets to meld.