Summer orzo pasta salad made with feta cheese, basil, dried cranberries and orzo pasta. This unique pasta salad is bursting with flavor in every single bite.
I am so excited to share with you one of my all time favorite recipes. This orzo salad recipe just screams summer. I first had it when we lived in Virginia Beach years ago. My cousin fixed something like this and it was a recipe I just could not get off my mind. The sweet flavor with the tartness of the feta cheese is unique and refreshing.
My favorite thing about this recipe is how quick and easy it is to make. It’s the perfect side for a steak dinner or hamburgers. Or it can stand alone, which is how we had it a few nights ago to celebrate the official start of spring.
Orzo Pasta Salad Ingredients
- dried cranberries
- Toasted Pine Nuts
- Fresh Basil Leaves
- Feta Cheese
- Olive Oil
- Orzo Pasta
- Lemon Juice
How to Make Orzo Salad
Boil the orzo pasta according to the directions. Drain and place on a large cookie sheet to cool. Add a splash of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together.
While the pasta is cooling, grab everything else you need for the recipe. This recipe is best made when the pasta is a bit warmer than room temperature so that it can really invite in all the flavors but doesn’t melt the feta cheese.
Add the dried cranberries, fresh basil and arugula to the lukewarm orzo pasta.
Toss in the toasted pine nuts. I love the nutty flavor and crunch these little nuts bring to this recipe.
Give it a good toss with 1/4 a cup of olive oil and the lemon juice. Then, add the feta cheese.
And give it one final toss! Yum! You’re ready to eat this summer goodness. You can let it sit while you grill as the flavors love to soak in with one another. But if you’re like me, you’ll be digging in right away.
This is the perfect side dish for Chicken Salad Sandwiches, grilled chicken, Black Bean Burgers or your favorite main dish recipe. This is also my go-to recipe when we’re taking a meal to someone after having a baby or medical reasons. Enjoy!
Orzo Salad Tips & Notes
Do you serve this orzo pasta salad warm or cold? I prefer my orzo pasta to be a bit warm when I toss it with all the ingredients. That being said, it’s equally delicious served cold. You can make this ahead of time for dinner later in the day. Like any good pasta salad, the longer the flavors can be together, the better.
How do you keep the orzo pasta from sticking while it’s cooling? Toss with a little bit of olive oil to keep the orzo from sticking to each other. I also spray my large baking pan before adding the orzo pasta for an added bit.
How long with orzo pasta keep after you make it? Store in the refrigerator. It will keep for 2 to 3 days if kept refrigerated.
How do you toast pine nuts for this recipe? Take your pine nuts and place them on the stove over medium heat. Set timer for 2 minutes. Toss. Then watch closely continually until fully toasted. It takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
Can I make the orzo pasta ahead of time? Yes! Fully cook the orzo and toss with a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking. When cool, place in a large plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator for up to two days. Make the pasta according to directions.
More Salad Recipes
Orzo Salad Recipe
- 16 oz orzo pasta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cups arugula
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted
- 12 fresh basil leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 3/4 Cup feta cheese
- Boil a large stock pot of water. Add the orzo pasta and boil until fully cooked. Drain and place on greased cooking sheet. Toss with olive oil and let cool.
- Toast the pine nuts.
- Once the orzo pasta has returned to room temperature, add it to a large bowl. Add the Kale Italia, dried cherries, toasted pine nuts, basil, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Toss.
- Add the feta and toss again. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe inspiration found here.
This recipe was originally published June 2015 and was republished April 2019.