I’ve been a little obsessed with Chimichurri since I made it a couple weeks ago. I just keep finding new uses for it! Quite a few people left comments on the original chimichurri recipe talking about how it was used on their favorite salad as a dressing, so I thought I’d do the same. This incredibly simple Zucchini and Orzo Salad gives you all the best flavors and colors of summer and can be jazzed up and modified several different ways.
What is Chimichurri?
Chimichurri is an Argentinian sauce made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, fresh herbs, and spices. This uncooked, super fresh and vibrant sauce can be used as a marinade, dipping sauce, or condiment to drizzle over meat, vegetables, and more. And it’s so absolutely delicious that you’ll be addicted after the first taste.
Dress it Up or Keep it Simple
Just as I love to do, I’m giving you the base recipe for this Zucchini and Orzo Salad with Chimichurri below, plus a few ideas to take it a step or two further if you have the funds or desire for something a little extra fancy.
I wanted to keep my Zucchini and Orzo Salad vegan, but if that’s not a concern for you a little cheese would be awesome with this mix. Try a few crumbles of feta or those cute little mozzarella pearls. The cheese will marinate in the chimichurri and soak up all those wonderful flavors! YUM.
How to Use Leftover Chimichurri
Speaking of marinating, I didn’t use the entire chimichurri batch in my salad, so you could easily portion off some of it and use it as a marinade for chicken, and then add the chicken to the salad after cooking. And for all you fellow egg lovers out there, I can’t stop thinking about how awesome a soft boiled egg would be on top of this lovely salad.
And if you need more ideas for your leftover chimichurri, head over to the original chimichurri post to see some ideas for how you can enjoy it. The possibilities are truly endless.
Zucchini and Orzo Salad with Chimichurri
- 1/2 cup olive oil ($0.83)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar ($0.40)
- 1 cup Italian parsley, packed ($0.35)
- 1/2 cup cilantro*, packed ($0.19)
- 3 cloves garlic ($0.24)
- 1 tsp dried oregano ( $0.10)
- 1/2 tsp cumin ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes ($0.02)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1 cup uncooked orzo ($1.07)
- 1 medium zucchini (0.75 to 1 lb.) ($1.29)
- 1 pinch salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes ( $2.79)
- Prepare the chimichurri by washing the parsley and cilantro leaves well, then shaking off as much water as possible. Pull the leaves from the stems and add them to a food processor, along with the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, cumin, red pepper, and salt. Pulse the mixture until smooth. (Or finely mince the parsley, cilantro, and garlic with a knife and stir together with the remaining ingredients.)
- Cook the orzo according to the package directions, drain in a colander, and then let cool.
- Slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch thick rounds. The zucchini can be added to the salad raw, grilled, or roasted in the oven first. I used a countertop grill to grill the slices, then cut them into quarter rounds after grilling. If roasting in the oven, toss with a little oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, then roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Let the zucchini cool slightly.
- While the zucchini and pasta are cooling, slice the grape tomatoes in half. Once the zucchini and orzo are no longer steaming hot, combine them in a bowl with the tomatoes. Pour about half of the chimichurri over top, and then toss until everything is coated. Add more chimichurri to your liking (I used about 3/4 of the batch). Taste and add salt or pepper to the salad if needed.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Zucchini and Orzo Salad – Step by Step Photos
Prepare the chimichurri by rinsing the parsley and cilantro leaves well, then shaking off as much water as possible (you don’t want watery chimichurri). Pull the leaves from the parsley and pack about one cup full of leaves. Pack 1/2 cup full of cilantro leaves. Add the parsley and cilantro to a food processor along with 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 3 garlic cloves, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp salt. Pulse until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, mince the parsley, cilantro, and garlic with a knife, then stir together with the rest of the ingredients.
If you prefer a chunkier chimichurri, you can chop garlic and herbs by hand and then just stir in the remaining ingredients.
Cook one cup of orzo according to the package directions, then drain in a colander and let cool. I have also seen whole wheat orzo, which would be very nice in this salad.
Slice one 3/4 lb. to 1 lb. zucchini into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick rounds. You can add the zucchini to the salad raw, grill it, or roast it in the oven. I chose to grill mine using a countertop grill (George Foreman). If you’re adding the zucchini to your salad raw, go ahead and cut it into quarter rounds at this point. If you are grilling, it’s easier to cut them into smaller pieces after grilling.
Season the zucchini slices with a pinch of salt and pepper before grilling or roasting. OR, you can toss the zucchini slices in a small bit of the chimichurri before grilling or roasting. To roast the slices, either toss them in a little of the chimichurri, or a splash of oil, then roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
After cooking the zucchini, cut them into quarter rounds and transfer them to a bowl to cool slightly. While waiting for the zucchini to cool, slice the grape tomatoes in half.
Add the drained and cooled orzo to the bowl, then pour about half of the chimichurri over top.
Stir the salad until everything is evenly coated, then add more chimichurri to your liking. I ended up using about 3/4 of the batch. The pasta will absorb some of the moisture from the chimichurri, so I would suggest adding slightly more than you’d expect.
Give the salad a final taste and add a pinch of salt and pepper if needed. Enjoy!
Soooo fresssshhhhh! 💦