Spinach and Orzo Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

$5.50 recipe / $1.38 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.77 from 21 votes
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I’m trying to work my way through a large tub of spinach this week before it gets wilted, so today I threw a bunch of it into a really simple salad with orzo, sun dried tomatoes (another ingredient I’m trying to use up), and some of my leftover feta that I have stashed in the freezer. I topped it all off with a super simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette. I absolutely LOVE  super simple salad like this Spinach and Orzo Salad. For me this would be a great light lunch, but you could also serve it along side some of your summer grilling!

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A big glass bowl full of Spinach and Orzo Salad with wooden salad tongs and a jar of dressing on the side

Take Your Spinach and Orzo Salad Further…

I kept my salad simple because, like I said, I was using up leftovers. But, if you want to take it further you could always add some thinly sliced red onion, maybe some kalamata olives, grilled chicken, or chopped artichoke hearts. This salad is super flexible!

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Spinach and Orzo Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

4.77 from 21 votes
A quick homemade balsamic vinaigrette makes this simple Spinach and Orzo Salad extra special. Serve as a light lunch or a side with dinner.
A quick homemade balsamic vinaigrette makes this simple Spinach and Orzo Salad extra special. Serve as a light lunch or a side with dinner. BudgetBytes.com
Servings 4
Prep 15 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 25 mins

Ingredients

BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/4 cup olive oil ($0.52)
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar ($0.22)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.08)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard ($0.03)
  • Salt and pepper to taste ($0.03)

SALAD

  • 1/2 lb orzo ($0.50)
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach ($1.50)
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes ($1.50)
  • 2 oz feta ($1.12)

Instructions 

  • Prepare the vinaigrette first to allow the flavors time to blend. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, Dijon, about 1/4 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to a jar or bowl. Whisk until the ingredients are combined, or place a lid on the jar and shake for 10-15 seconds. Set the dressing aside.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil to cook the orzo. Once boiling, add the orzo and continue to boil until tender. Drain the orzo and allow it to cool just slightly.
  • While waiting for the orzo to cook, chop the sun dried tomatoes into small pieces. Place them in a bowl and cover with hot water (I used a ladle full of boiling water from the pot just before adding the pasta). Let the chopped sun dried tomatoes sit in the hot water for about 5 minutes, then drain.
  • Place the baby spinach in a large bowl. Add the drained and still warm orzo to the bowl, along with the soaked sun dried tomatoes, and crumbled feta cheese. Pour the balsamic vinaigrette over top, then toss until the ingredients are combined and coated with vinaigrette. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 477.6kcalCarbohydrates: 59.5gProtein: 14.13gFat: 21.7gSodium: 660.18mgFiber: 6.75g
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Side view of a glass bowl full of Spinach and Orzo Salad with wooden salad tongs

How to Make Spinach and Orzo Salad – Step by Step Photos

Balsamic Vinaigrette in a mason jar from above

Make the balsamic vinaigrette first to allow the flavors a few minutes to blend. This dressing is super easy and only takes about five minutes. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, about 1/4 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to either a small jar or a bowl. Place a lid on the jar and shake for 10-15 seconds, or whisk it in a bowl until combined. Set the dressing aside.

Sun Dried Tomatoes spilling out of the package

Cook 8oz. (about 1 cup) orzo according to the package directions. Once cooked, drain it in a colander, and let it cool for just a few minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the sun dried tomatoes. These are the type that I use and in my local store they are in the produce department. I used about 1/2 cup of these tomato halves, which was about 11 pieces. The pieces are large, though, so we want to chop ’em up.

Chopped Sun Dried Tomatoes

Chop the tomatoes into small pieces. Since these are the dry type of sun dried tomatoes (as opposed to oil packed), we want to soften them up some. Place the chopped tomatoes in a bowl and cover them with hot water. I just ladled some of the boiling water that I was boiling for the orzo (before I actually added the orzo) over the tomatoes. Let them sit in the hot water for about 5 minutes, then drain them.

Spinach Orzo Tomatoes Feta in the bowl, not yet combined

Place about 4 cups of fresh baby spinach in a large bowl. Add the drained and slightly cooled orzo (it should still be warm–this helps wilt the spinach just a bit), softened sun dried tomatoes, and 2 oz. crumbled feta.

Drizzle Balsamic Vinaigrette on salad

Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette over the salad (I used the entire batch of vinaigrette).

Mix Spinach and Orzo Salad

Toss the ingredients together until they are combined and coated in the balsamic vinaigrette. The spinach leaves will soften after a few minutes as they absorb the dressing and heat from the orzo. I like to save just a little of the feta to sprinkle over top as well.

A glass bowl full of Spinach and Orzo Salad from above with a mason jar of dressing on the side

And that’s it! Could this Spinach and Orzo Salad be any easier?? Good food doesn’t have to be complicated.

TRY THESE OTHER SPINACH SALAD RECIPES:

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  1. I made this for the first time this year this evening. Delicious as always! This recipe has become a summertime staple in our dinner rotation in the last couple years. I usually add white beans or chickpeas and either walnuts or pine nuts to give it some extra protein to enjoy as a one- bowl meal. Many of your recipes have become my go-tos for something simple and tasty, namely the “poor man’s burrito bowls” and the spicy peanut ramen.

  2. WOW! This was amazing. We chose to eat this as a more spinach-based salad so we used an entire huge container of spinach, and kept the orzo and S-D-T ratios the same. And naturally we went ham on the feta. We tripled the dressing to account for all of that spinach and we devoured the entire huge box of spinach. I honestly don’t think we’ve ever finished such a big box before. This is a MUST.

  3. A friend of mine did something very similar, but instead of SD tomatoes, she used dried cherries, and added a bit of fresh torn herbs in with the spinach, like basil and mint. It was so good. Great base to try a little savory/sweet combo.

  4. This recipe looks delicious!  I’m going to make it for a dinner party – how many people does the recipe feed (as a side).?

    1. I guess it just depends on how big of a serving you usually do for side dishes. Four to be safe, maybe 6 if you do smaller side portions.

  5. SOOOO good. One of the best pasta salads I’ve ever had! And so simple to throw together. Literally going to eat this every week this summer haha. It’s great as a dinner side, and makes the perfect work lunch, too!

  6. This was soooo good! My whole family loved it. The flavors were well balanced and made a great side dish.

  7. Made this recipe today. Absolutely in love with the flavors. So delicious and this is definately an addition to my meals. New to your page and cannot wait to explore more of your recipes.

  8. This recipe is amazing! I added leftover chopped walnuts, and then honey and oregano to the dressing. Definitely a keeper! I loved eating it warm. Also, the feta we had in the fridge had herbs, which I’d definitely use again for added flavor. 

  9. We’ve made this a few times now. Was a summer go-to salad, but now still a recipe we have enjoyed as it gets colder! Having the pasta makes this more filling than a traditional spinach salad. Most of the ingredients are on-hand, just need fresh spinach each time.

  10. What would be a good substitute for the orzo?  They didn’t have that available at my local grocery store.

  11. This salad packs a huge flavor punch! I did make a few adjustments. I left out the feta because I’m not a huge cheese lover (I know, I know) and my husband is lactose intolerant. I also preferred to keep it light and let the other flavors shine through. I added a few chopped up kalamata olives and a can of artichoke hearts. The artichoke hearts don’t add much flavor, in my opinion, but they bulk it out a bit more and add another plant. I found the ratios super flexible and didn’t really measure anything. The dressing is so simple but somehow so amazing! I did use a little less oil and a little more vinegar than the recipe calls for, in an attempt to keep it lower-fat and lower-calorie. As delicious as this salad is, it’s still higher calorie and more expensive than most of the salads I make. Definitely so amazing and delicious, though.

  12. This recipe was super delicious and easy. I made it with whole grain pasta just to be healthier but it ended up adding a great flavor. The dressing was the star with such simple ingredients.