This greek orzo pasta salad is a refreshing cold pasta dish perfect for the hot summer months, parties, or even meal prepping! Made with orzo pasta, vegetables, and lemony oregano vinaigrette, this easy pasta salad is definitely a crowd favorite.
What is orzo pasta?
Also called risoni, orzo pasta is usually made from the same ingredients as other popular types of pasta – like macaroni or linguine – but is just cut and shaped like rice.
People love orzo because it has a wonderful mouth-feel and cooks quickly. A large pot of orzo pasta only takes about 7 minutes to cook.
What is Greek salad?
Greek salad is a dish that uses ingredients grown naturally in the Mediterranean region. Some of the most common ingredients in Greek salad are:
- Feta cheese
- Cherry tomatoes
Why this recipe works
There’s nothing better on a warm day than cold pasta salad!
Orzo pasta is cooked al dente, then chilled with greek ingredients, including kalamata olives, cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese, and juicy tomatoes. The pasta salad marinates in a lemony oregano vinaigrette for maximum flavor.
Even without warm weather, this orzo pasta salad is perfect for travel or work since you don’t need to heat it up!
Greek orzo pasta salad ingredients
There are endless options with ingredients when making pasta salad. I love Greek flavors and knew they would be great to use in this recipe!
For the salad, I used:
- Orzo pasta
- Cherry tomatoes
- English cucumber
- Red onion
- Kalamata olives
- Feta cheese
You can use any type of pasta for this recipe, but I used orzo pasta. The small size of the orzo incorporates well with the additional greek ingredients.
Any type of olives, tomatoes, onion, and cucumbers will work perfectly! I like the small size of cherry tomatoes, and the red onions have a very powerful flavor (and look beautiful) in pasta salad.
If you like spicy foods, then add some pepperoncini peppers to the dish. It’s a classic pepper that is often found on Greek salad.
And don’t forget the feta cheese! If you can’t find feta, crumbled goat cheese is a perfect substitute.
Prepping vegetables for pasta salad
Another reason I love this pasta salad recipe is that it is so easy and quick to make.
To prep the veggies:
- Chop up the cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumber, and parsley.
- Slice the red onions on the mandoline for them to be more uniform, but please be careful and use the guard.
If you do not have a mandoline, you can easily just thinly slice with a knife.
What type of dressing to use for Greek salad
My favorite part of any pasta salad is the dressing or vinaigrette that it’s in! When the pasta soaks up all that flavor, every bite is so delicious.
Greek salad dressings are usually mild and resemble Italian dressing – a combination of Greek oregano and olive oil.
I used these basic ingredients such as:
The lemon adds a bit of acidic tang- it’s my favorite part! All of the ingredients come together to make such a bright vinaigrette.
Cooking orzo pasta
- Cook the orzo al dente. You do not want to overcook it because when it soaks up all the vinaigrette, it will get soggy.
- Once al dente, remove it from the pot, drain, and run cold water over it before adding it to the dish. You don’t want the orzo to be hot when adding to the other ingredients.
Marinating the pasta
I allow the dish to “marinate” for a minimum of an hour in the refrigerator before enjoying it. This will allow all the ingredients to get cold (for that refreshing bite) and, most importantly, give the ingredients a chance to meld with the vinaigrette.
This pasta salad gets better the longer it sits in the refrigerator!
Once the greek orzo pasta salad is done marinating, you are left with a bright and refreshing pasta salad. An easy pasta salad recipe perfect for picnics or to enjoy throughout the week.
Best type of meat to add to Greek salad
Beef or lamb are both very popular types of meat that you will most commonly find on top of Greek salads.
If you want to top it with beef, try some thinly sliced roast beef. Or, add some tender top sirloin steak or even a marinated flank steak.
For a classic pasta salad look, add some salami and pepperoni! I’ve even seen chicken on Greek salad.
So, have fun with your salad and make it how you want it.
Storing Greek orzo pasta salad
This is a fantastic salad to add to your weekly meal prep. If you are going to store leftover pasta salad, keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I prefer to use a mason jar because I can screw the lid on so tightly that it is leakproof.
This pasta salad will stay delicious if you keep it for only three days or so. After about three days, the vegetables won’t be as crispy because they will have soaked up all the salad dressing.
Other delicious side dishes:
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Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces orzo pasta
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 cup English cucumber diced
- ½ cup red onion thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup kalamata olives sliced in half
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- ¼ cup parsley chopped
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 lemon for juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a small pasta pot, cook pasta al dente according to package instructions. Remove from heat, drain, rinse the pasta, then set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients including the vinaigrette. Toss to ensure all the ingredients are combined.
- Place in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving to marinate.
Add-Ins + Substitutions
- If you like spicy foods, then add some pepperoncini peppers to the dish.
- Can't find feta? crumbled goat cheese is a perfect substitute.
- You can use any type of pasta for this recipe
- Ensure pasta is cooked al dente, you do not want to overcook it because when it soaks up all the vinaigrette it will get soggy.
- Orzo should be cooled before adding the rest of the ingredients
- Allow the dish to "marinate" for minimum an hour in the refrigerator before enjoying it. This will allow all the ingredients to get cold (for that refreshing bite) and, most importantly, give the ingredients a chance to meld with the vinaigrette. This pasta salad gets better the longer it sits in the refrigerator!
- Store in refrigerator
- Can drizzle a little olive oil when enjoying leftovers if needed.