This Orzo Salad with Feta is bursting with Greek Salad-inspired flavors, like cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, and olives. Dressed with a simple vinaigrette, this pasta salad is a favorite for lunch, a light dinner, or served as a side dish.
My friends visited Greece and brought me the most beautiful gifts from their travels. So far, I’ve tasted an incredible varietal of honey, two fantastic extra virgin olive oils, and am about to try a recipe with trahana (sour pasta).
The weekend they brought me my treats, I was actually planning to make a bowl of my favorite Orzo salad with Feta. The timing was prefect to try one of my new, fragrant olive oils–and make pasta salad for all of us to enjoy!
What You’ll Need to Make This Recipe
While this pasta salad isn’t an authentic Greek recipe, it’s inspired by the flavors of Horiatiki (Greek Salad). The crunchy cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, briny Feta, red onions, and Kalamata olives that are traditional to Horiatiki also make a delicious pasta salad.
Shopping for Feta? Check out my Feta Cheese Guide to help you navigate the options at the market. Not all Feta is created equal!
To make the dish a bit heartier, I also like to add marinated artichoke hearts. Other additions I’ve swapped in the past include chickpeas (great for adding meatless protein), roasted red peppers (diced), raw green bell peppers (diced), pine nuts (toasted), and capers.
This is a dish that’s easy to customize to both your personal preferences, and what you have on hand in the pantry and fridge.
My friends who have tasted this recipe have all said how well-balanced it is. It’s a fully-loaded orzo salad but everything plays well together and nothing overshadows.
I make a quick homemade vinaigrette to dress this orzo salad, using both lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Combined with fruity olive oil, garlic, oregano, and just a touch of honey to balance the acidity, it’s a simple dressing that ties everything together nicely.
I usually shake the ingredients together in a jam jar until emulsified and pour the dressing over the orzo. If you don’t have a jar on hand, or prefer not to use one, it’s just as easy to whisk the vinaigrette in your salad assembly bowl before adding the orzo.
Tips for Making Orzo Salad
This pasta salad couldn’t be easier to make. Assembly is really just “toss and go,” but a few tips will ensure the best results:
1. Don’t overcook the orzo. Cook it just to al dente in salted boiling water, before draining and rinsing well in cool water. The brand of orzo I buy is ready in 8 to 10 minutes.
Tip: You can also cook the orzo in your Instant Pot. Combine the dried pasta with 4 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and a splash of olive oil. Cook at high pressure for half the time listed on the box (round down for partial minutes). Quick release, drain, and proceed with the recipe as written.
2. Chop the vegetables roughly the same size. Since this is a rustic orzo salad, you don’t have to be totally precise here, but you want to be able to easily scoop up everything with a fork when plated.
I aim for a bite-sized dice for the cucumbers and a rough chop on the artichoke hearts. For the red onions, I prefer a bit of a finer dice. They’re one of the stronger flavors in the salad and a big bite can overpower.
I usually cut my cherry tomatoes and pitted olives in half, but if the tomatoes are on the plumper side, you might want to quarter them.
3. Toss the the Feta into the salad last so it doesn’t break up too much. Then, season the pasta salad to taste with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice, if needed.
The final seasoning will depend on the saltiness and tanginess of the Feta you’ve used, as well as the marinated artichoke hearts. I find that it varies by batch.
4. Let the ingredients mingle before serving. While you can eat the salad right away, letting it marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving will maximize the flavor.
Meal Prep: Can I Make This Orzo Salad Ahead?
Absolutely! You can prep and assemble this recipe up to a day in advance of serving.
When prepping this salad ahead, I like to withhold the fresh parsley and Feta and add them up to an hour before I’m going to serve. Both can lose their luster a bit as they sit in the vinaigrette for an extended period.
This salad should be stored, tightly-covered, in the refrigerator. Take it out about 20-30 minutes before serving to take the chill off, and give it a good toss to redistribute the dressing at the bottom of the container.
Serving The Salad
While we often think of pasta salads as summer fare, I love having Orzo Salad with Feta year-round for an easy lunch. Serve it with lightly-warmed pita on the side (so good dipped into vinaigrette at the bottom of the bowl!).
It’s also a delicious side dish for grilled meats and seafood. I especially like it with marinated and grilled shrimp skewers, chicken breasts, and lamb chops.
Want to turn this salad into a full meal? Toss in cubed grilled chicken breasts, shredded rotisserie chicken, or grilled shrimp.
More Greek-Inspired Recipes:
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
- Chickpea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Feta
- Homemade Tzatziki
- Homemade Pita Chips
- Leftover Lamb Pita Board
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Orzo Salad with Feta
- 1-½ cups dried orzo
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 large garlic clove , minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup diced english cucumber
- 1-½ cups halved cherry tomatoes
- ¾ cup diced red onion
- 12 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts , drained and roughly chopped
- 1 cup halved kalamata olives
- ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 cup crumbled Greek Feta
- kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- Cook orzo in salted boiling water to "al dente" according to package directions. Pour into a colander and rinse with cool water, draining the pasta well.
- Pour olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, garlic, oregano, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper into a lidded jar. Shake vigorously to combine. (Alternately, combine all of the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil in a bowl and whisk in the oil in a steady stream until emulsified.)
- Toss orzo with the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, artichoke hearts, olives, and parsley. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Gently fold in crumbled Feta.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice, if needed (quantities will depend on the brand of Feta and artichoke hearts you've used). The salad can be enjoyed right away, but the flavors are best if it marinates in the refrigerator for about an hour. Stir the salad before serving to redistribute any vinaigrette at the bottom of the bowl.
- Serve with warm pita bread.