Mediterranean Orzo Salad
This vegan Mediterranean orzo salad recipe is easy to make in under 20 minutes for a delicious, flavourful dish that’s perfect for a light main or healthy side.
About this Recipe
This orzo salad is packed with vibrant colours, fresh flavours and wholesome ingredients making it the perfect dish for any occasion. From a light and refreshing lunch, a side dish or a potluck or a healthy meal prep salad, this recipe has got you covered.
The dish is not only delicious but also easy to make (just 20 minutes) and versatile. You can serve it cold in the summer or warm it up during the colder months. It’s also vegan and can be made gluten-free and oil-free to suit your dietary needs.
The recipe features orzo pasta, fresh vegetables and a zesty homemade lemon dressing that brings it all together, and if you love this combo, you’ll also want to try this Lemon Garlic Orzo with Roasted Vegetables.
If you have extra orzo, this Lemon Chickpea Orzo Soup is also amazing!
If you’re serving it as a side dish, it pairs well with something like my chickpea veggie burger, beet burger, falafel, lemon roasted potatoes or marinated tempeh. If you’re serving it as a main dish, I’d suggest pairing it with your choice of protein. It’s also yummy with a big scoop of hummus and some fresh pita.
Let’s get into the ingredients you’ll need, substitutions and variations, how to make the salad and helpful tips for making it a success.
When you’re ready to make the recipe, you’ll find the complete and printable recipe card at the end of the post with everything you need to do so.
Complete list of ingredients with amounts and full instructions is located in the recipe card below.
- Orzo: Any brand of orzo works though note that sometimes it contains egg so be sure to read the label if you need the recipe to be vegan or egg-free.
- Tomatoes: Cherry or grape tomatoes are suggested though any fresh tomato works.
- Chickpeas: Canned chickpeas are suitable but you could also cook your own from scratch.
- Onion: The recipe calls for red onion but you could substitute shallot.
- Olives: The recipe calls for black olives but kalamata olives would work well as a substitute.
- Olive Oil: The olive oil is optional but suggested for the lemon vinaigrette. You can omit it if you need the recipe to be oil-free.
Other ingredients that can be substituted or added are:
- bell peppers
- artichoke hearts
- roasted red peppers
- sun-dried tomatoes
- roasted eggplant
Quick Note: If you plan to make the tofu feta, I’d suggest making it the day or a few hours before for the most flavour.
If you’re short on time, 30 minutes is fine too so no worries if you didn’t plan ahead! It’s an optional ingredient either way.
Store-bought vegan feta works too!
Step 1: Cook the Orzo
Prepare the orzo according to package instructions, which should go something like this:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Add the orzo and cook for 5-6 minutes until al dente then strain.
- For this recipe, rinse the orzo under cold water until cool.
Quick Tips: For orzo success, be sure to use a large pot to the pasta has room to move around and cook evenly, generously salt the cooking water to help season the orzo, cook the orzo al dente to avoid a mushy salad, drain and rinse the orzo thoroughly.
Step 2: Prepare the Veggies
While the orzo is cooking, chop all the veggies and add them to a large mixing or salad bowl with the chickpeas. You’ll need:
- cherry or grape tomatoes
- red onion
Other veggies that would work well here are eggplant, spinach, bell pepper, zucchini and artichoke hearts.
Step 3: Mix the Dressing
Whisk the dressing ingredient together in a bowl This includes the lemon and lemon zest, dried herbs and olive oil, if using.
Can I make it without oil? Sure! I don’t use much oil in my kitchen but I love the olive oil in this recipe. It’s only 2 tbsp for the whole recipe so it’s not much. However, if you’d like the recipe to be oil-free, it’s totally ok to omit it.
Step 4: Mix Salad
Add the cooked, cooled orzo and dressing to the veggies and chickpeas and mix well.
Serve right away topped with an extra squeeze of lemon and a generous sprinkle of tofu feta!
Sure! This would be tasty with any kind of short pasta shape like rotini, bows or macaroni or you can try my Greek pasta salad recipe.
As written, no, it’s not gluten-free. Orzo is normally made with wheat but if you can find a gluten-free orzo like cassava orzo, then yes, you can make the recipe gluten-free.
Yes. This is a great make-ahead dish. You can prepare the salad ingredients and dressing in advance and store them separately in the fridge until you’re ready to serve or go ahead and mix it all up and store it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
It you’re taking it a gathered, it’s ok out of the fridge for a few hours but try to keep it cool if possible.
It can be served warm or cold, depending on your preference. Technically, it’s a chilled salad but you can definitely warm it up if you like.
- This salad will keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days in a sealed container.
- You can always refresh the salad with a bit of fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper and splash of olive oil after storing for a few days.
Did you try this recipe?
I’d love to hear about it! Click here to leave a review and be sure to tag me @runningonrealfood if you post it on social media.
A delicious orzo salad recipe featuring chickpeas, veggies and a fresh and flavourful lemon herb dressing! This tasty dish is lovely any time of year but wonderfully refreshing for a light main or side during the spring and summer months.
For the Salad
- 400 g (2.5 cups) uncooked orzo
- 1/3 cup (55 g) diced red onion
- 1.5 cups (225 g) halved cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 heaping cup (150 g) diced cucumber, seeds removed
- 1 19 oz can (540 ml, 2.5 cups) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 6 oz can (200 ml) sliced black olives
- 2 (10 g) garlic cloves, minced
For the Dressing
- 2 tbsp lemon zest
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried dill
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp (30 g) extra virgin olive oil, optional
For the Optional Tofu Feta
- 175 g firm or extra-firm tofu, pressed (approx. 1/2 cup crumbled)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Cook Orzo: In a large pot cook orzo according to package instructions.
- Prepare Vegetables: While the orzo is cooking, add the chickpeas and chopped vegetables to a large mixing bowl and mix throughly.
- Zest Lemon: Use a citrus planer or fine grater to prepare the lemon zest from the peel of the lemon. If you don’t have a fine grater or planer, cut off some of the peel and very finely chop until you have 2 tbsp.
- Mix Dressing: Add the zest and the rest of the dressing ingredients to a bowl and whisk together with a fork.
- Drain and Rinse Orzo: Once the orzo is cooked, drain and rinse well with cold water until cooled.
- Mix Salad: Add the orzo to the bowl with the chopped vegetables and dressing and mix well.
- Serve: Serve topped with a sprinkle of the tofu feta.
Tofu Feta: Press tofu for at least 20 minutes (see instructions on how to press tofu here). Crumble pressed tofu into a container and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle on salad when serving.
Storing: Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Serving Size: 1/6th of recipe
- Calories: 189
- Sodium: 194 mg
- Fat: 5 g
- Carbohydrates: 31 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 5 g
Keywords: mediterranean orzo salad, vegan orzo salad