This Herb-Lovers Lemony Orzo Salad recipe is easy to make and filled with the best fresh and zesty flavors! Perfect for serving as a main dish or side, and easy to customize with your favorite add-ins.
As long as I live, I’m pretty sure that I will never grow tired of chopping up fresh herbs in the kitchen. ♡
I’m convinced they are one of life’s best little luxuries. And every time I place them on my cutting board and give them a quick slice, or a rough chop, or maybe a fine chiffonade, I can’t help but lean down to inhale those magical fresh scents again and again. And then “oooh” and “ahhh” and insist that Barclay come take a whiff too. And then, inevitably, sprinkle an extra handful into the recipe, just for good measure.
Fresh herbs are just the best.
And this time of year, they are downright overflowing in the markets here around Barcelona. So this weekend, I decided to put a big crop of fresh basil and mint to use in a zippy lemony orzo salad. It’s filled with lots of fresh cucumber, red onion, chickpeas and spinach, and tossed with a simple dressing of lemon juice and olive oil, and sprinkled with a bit of feta or goat cheese (if you’d like). But all of those freshly-chopped herbs are undoubtedly what take this recipe over the top. Feel free to add in any of your faves (a bit of dill, thyme, parsley and/or rosemary would also be delicious here).
And of course, feel free to sprinkle in an extra handful for good measure.
Lemony Orzo Salad Ingredients:
Here’s what I used to make this pasta salad. But please feel free to sub in your favorite ingredients in any of these categories!
orzo (or any pasta shape)
chickpeas (or white beans, for extra protein)
veggies (English cucumber and red onions)
greens (baby spinach or arugula)
herbs (basil, mint…or whatever sounds good!)
lemons (I like to use the zest and juice of two large lemons, but begin with one and see what you think)
olive oil, salt and pepper (don’t skimp on the S&P with this recipe!)
cheese (crumbled feta or goat, if desired)
Also, I realized afterwards that some toasted pine nuts or almonds would be delicious in this salad, if you feel like tossing a few in.
How To Make Pasta Salad:
Super duper easy! Simply…
Prepare your pasta. Cook it al dente according to package instructions, being sure to generously salt your pasta water. Then drain and rinse with cold water until chilled.
Toss all of your ingredients. Combine the pasta and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, and toss until evenly combined.
Taste and season. Don’t skip this step! ;) Give the pasta salad a taste, then season with a few pinches of salt and pepper and extra lemon juice (if needed) until the balances of everything tastes right to you.
Serve! Then serve it up! Or if you’re making this orzo salad in advance, cover and refrigerate it for up to 3 days until ready to use.
This Herb-Lovers Lemony Orzo Salad is full of fresh and zesty ingredients that everyone will love! Perfect for serving as a main dish or side, and easy to customize with your favorite add-ins.
12 ounces uncooked orzo (or any pasta shape)
2 large handfuls fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 English cucumber, diced
half a small red onion, diced
1 cup roughly-chopped fresh basil leaves
1 cup roughly-chopped fresh mint leaves
1–2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste
optional: 1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
Cook the pasta in a large stockpot of generously-salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain pasta then rinse thoroughly in a strainer with cold water until the pasta is chilled. Transfer pasta to a large mixing bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl (using cheese if desired). Toss until evenly combined. Taste, and season with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper, to taste. (I used about 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.) Also feel free to add in extra lemon juice if you’d like an extra-lemony salad. (
Serve immediately. Or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
What a great looking salad! One question, I live in Bcn too and… where do you buy orzo? I can never seem to find it here!
Hola! :) Sadly, it doesn’t seem to exist here. I had some family from the States bring me over a few boxes because I missed cooking with it. I did see a similar shape when we were in Italy, but it had a name other than orzo…wish I had written it down!
Some people call it risoni.
Just found this recipe and eager to try making it. I also live in Barcelona and although this was posted over a year ago and you may have found an orzo source, I thought I might provide some options. I have found Garofalo brand orzo in Caprabo (at least the larger Caprabo supermarkets) but I believe La Salumeria Italian shop in Sant Antoni also stocks orzo. I love La Salumeria, I stock up on unusual pasta shapes whenever I’m there and they also stock some nice Italian cheeses. It’s at Comte Borrell 8.
Hi Sofia, my comment is coming to you almost 3 years after the fact. but if you’re still in Europe the Italian name is risoni! That’s what I buy at my local grocery store in Rome. Hopefully, you’re able to find it at an Italian grocery store in Barcelona.
Love all the fresh herbs in this! Perfect salad for spring :)
Yum!! Looks like a great lunch!
You are such a dear–keep up your lovely, delicious, sweet posts! (BTY, your chicken enchiladas recipe is the BEST recipe HAND DOWN!!!)
Love the flavor combination here. Perfect for a hot summer day! Adding to my Vegetarian Pin Board!
Is it 12 oz of cooked or uncooked pasta? I’m making this today- it looks amazing!! Thanks ?
Uncooked. :) Enjoy!
This looks absolutely divine !! so many heart eyes !
I made this salad last night. I wasn’t too sure how it would turn out because of the ingredients. It was AWESOME! My husband and I have more than one helping of it.
Made this as a side for my Mother’s Day dinner get together and everyone LOVED it! Super fresh and bright!
I make something very similar, I add oil packed sundried tomatoes and artichokes with a little of the herby oil from the tomato jar instead of the olive oil and it is one of my favorite lunches to take to work ever!
Yum!! Do you have a recipe for this one to share?
I made this for dinner using mint I planted in my container garden. So delish, light but filling. I forgot to pick up basil so I can omly imagine how tastier it will be next time. Served with baked flounder for a fabulous healthy meal. This is a keeper! Thank you!
Made this with basil spinach and goat cheese as it was what we had on hand. Awesome! Like the idea of pine nuts for next time.
Thank you for this recipe! I made this salad for my lunches last week, and it was absolutely delicious – the flavours reminded me of spanakopita. I used farfalle as my local supermarket didn’t have orzo, and it worked really well. I’m making it again for my lunches this week too, definitely a new favourite recipe :)
I made this tonight, and it was so fresh and amazing. There’s lots of room for improvising and adding veggies and herbs you love.
Just made with with gluten free macaroni noodles. Good and fresh but definitely needs more salt and dressing than it calls for. I served it with pot roast and roasted summer veggies.
I made this and I can say that the more lemon, the better! I left out the cheese as I didn’t have on hand, added toasted pine nuts, and tossed in 12 oz of small salad shrimp. I have to say, YUM. Gave me a different pasta salad to enjoy.
This looks delicious! Love the orzo mixed with the herbs and lemon. Yummy!
This is so good! I added feta, diced sun dried tomatoes, and 1 tbsp dried dill/dill weed and substituted arugula for spinach. Thanks for this recipe, it’s a keeper ;)
This is a perfect summer pasta salad. I also made the Lemon Basil Grilled Chicken from allrecipes.com to go with. Perfect combo. I added 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts and increased the dressing by 50%
ooops, I doubled the feta also. So Good!
I truly love this salad! I’m trying to eat lighter with less fat. I used dill in place of mint, added chopped red/orange peppers, sliced almonds and the feta. Amazing! I rarely leave comments but I had to with this one! Thank you for sharing this refreshing recipe!
Love this recipe. Makes for a quick and easy side. Tastes light and fresh. I would say that you don’t even need that much pasta. Next time I make it I will cut the pasta by a third or even in half.
I made this tonight with grilled chicken and it was fantastic. Clean, fresh and and so perfect for a summer side.
Love this recipe.
Made this last night for dinner. What a wonderful, light healthy salad. So versatile. Definitely a keeper.
This recipe is amazing!!! So fresh and so delicious. I’m partial to arugula so I usually use that. There are many additions you can throw in that will compliment this dish. I’ve shared this recipe with several friends…as soon as you make it for people, everyone will want the recipe!
Just made this recipe and it is delish! I used the whole package of orzo (16 oz) and used 1/2 spinach and 1/2 arugula. Also used 3 lemons and the zest as well as 1/2 & 1/2 olive and lemon olive oil. Can you tell I LOVE lemon? Added the Feta and toasted Pine Nuts. Sprinkled with crushed red pepper. I also LOVE hot. BTW if you have a Trader Joes nearby they have the bags of orzo.
This is very flavorful and perfect summer pasta salad !
We served alongside pork kabobs in pita with all the fixings !!
Delish! I added green olives and sliced almonds to mine! Fantastic! Thank you!
This salad is fantastic! I don’t really care for chickpeas so I added avocado and green beans instead. All of my roommates loved it!
Excellent!! I also added the slivered almonds which gave it a nice texture and used parsley, basil, and a little dill. I agree you don’t need a ton of pasta. I used half a box of orzo with one of those giant containers of arugula and 2 added red bell peppers. I subbed ricotta salata for the cheese. Amazing!!! FYI-You find orzo in the pasta aisle, in a small box. It looks like rice in the box but it’s called orzo. And it’s usually stocked at eye level or on the top shelf. If you can’t find orzo I can also see Israeli couscous (the big couscous) being a good substitute.
Ali, I took this to a gathering recently and it was SUCH a hit! So many of our friends came up separately and commented to the effect of, “okay, we’re going to stop asking who made the GOOD food every time because we know you always find the best recipes!” And then the subsequent “omg, can you send me the link for that???” requests :)
Also, I added a generous dash of sumac because the mint got me thinking fattoush-y vibes and then that Garlic Expressions dressing (aka my nectar of the gods)… woooowwww. Not a nibble was left behind!
This salad is amazing! I left the mint out, but can imagine a little would be delish! Next time?
Such a light, refreshing salad for the summer! I made this for a friend who was sick and staying with family. They were delighted with the freshness. I have made this salad another time and was also well received by friends! Thank you for sharing.
I didn’t have orzo, so I used 2 cans of chickpeas. Used 2 lemons and the goat cheese. Fantastic!
Absolutely love this salad. I needed some new healthy meal ideas for 2022 and this is perfect. I opted for slightly lower carb and used chickpea rice. All the flavors go together so well. Saltines go great with it.
So delicious and refreshing!
Love it so many complements! When the orzo is warm I mix some olive oil and Kerry Gold butter so it will not stick together . When cool I add all the other fresh ingredients and lemon /oil dressing.
New favorite for parties!
Wonderful! We added some cherry tomatoes too! 1.5 lemons for the juice was perfect for us! Love this for a refreshing lunch!
Anyone have the nutrition information for this recipe??