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Orzo Pasta Salad

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Prepare this fantastic orzo pasta salad, filled with aromatic herbs and lemon, and serve it with salmon or a spinach pie. The leftovers served cold are perfect for lunch the next day.

Orzo Pasta Salad Pinterest photo

What is orzo?

Orzo is a type of pasta that looks like a large grain of rice. It is also called risoni. This pasta is usually made out of semolina, which is a type of flour made out of durum wheat.

This type of pasta is a versatile one, as you can add it to soups, make salads with it, serve it as a side dish or bake it in a casserole.

Why you should make this lemony orzo pasta salad recipe:

  • It is easy to make – With just a few ingredients, you can make a delicious pasta salad that is elegant and simple to make.
  • This salad travels well – The onions are caramelized, the capers are brined and the rest of ingredients are not going to spoil easily. The dressing is made with lemon and olive oil, which makes it safer for picnics or warm days.
  • It is a light salad – This salad is good not only in the summer, but anytime you need to make an elegant side dish to serve with grilled or roasted meats. There is no mayo or other dairy ingredients in it, which makes this recipe a light one.
  • Delicious – There is nothing better than a salad infused with olive oil and lemon juice. This recipe reminds me so much of the Mediterranean recipes, where less is more and simple ingredients make the best recipes ever.

What kind of ingredients go into this salad:

The textures and flavors in this salad are balanced and the simple vinaigrette is to die for. Here you have a visual list of the ingredients you will need for it.

Ingredients for the orzo pasta salad10

Orzo Pasta

Orzo pasta is the choice for this recipe, but if you can’t find it, any type of pasta you would use in a salad would work here.

Red Onion

The caramelized red onion gives this salad character, sweetness and color. I would not replace it with other types of onions.

Garlic

We use it here for flavor. Feel free to skip it if you don’t like it.

Olive oil, butter, brown sugar

We use them for caramelizing the onions and garlic. The brown sugar adds depth to the onions, but you can always go with regular sugar instead.

Dressing: Lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper

This is the easiest dressing you can make for most salads, in general. Fresh lemon juice is better than the canned one and don’t be afraid to use the zest of the lemon as well. It adds more flavor.

How to make this orzo pasta salad: (For the full set of instructions, see the recipe card at the end of the article):

Step 1.

Heat the oil and butter in a nonstick pan. Cook the onions slowly, making sure they don’t burn. Add minced garlic and sugar and cook more, until the onion looks golden and caramelized. Set aside to cool.

Caramelized onions and cooking orzo pasta

Step 2. Cook

In the meantime, cook the orzo pasta according to the package. I cooked my orzo in boiling salted water for 5 minutes.

Drain and drizzle a few drops of oil over the pasta, to keep the grains separated and fluffy. Set them aside to cool.

Step 3. Make the dressing:

In a small bowl/jar, whisk together oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Taste and correct the salt according to your taste.

About the salt: I always say that the amounts of salt on the list of ingredients are just to guide you on what the recipe should taste like. The rest is up to you. Maybe you need to consume less salt, maybe you like it saltier, there is no right or wrong here. Make the recipe yours.

Lemon dressing in a jar with lid

Step 4. Assemble the salad.

Place pasta, caramelized onions, chopped parsley, basil, capers, and half the almonds in a large bowl. 

Ingredients ready for assembling

Add the dressing and toss the salad gently. Make sure the dressing coats all ingredients. 

Orzo pasta salad on colorful bowl

Sprinkle the rest of the almonds over the salad and serve.

Orzo Pasta Salad in a white bowl, close up.

How long can I keep this orzo salad:

The salad will keep well in the refrigerator for up to three days.

More recipes to love:

Yield: 6

Orzo Pasta Salad

Orzo Pasta Salad in a white bowl square photo0

Prepare this fantastic orzo pasta salad, filled with aromatic herbs and lemon, and serve it with salmon or a spinach pie. The leftovers served cold are perfect for lunch the next day.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 12 oz orzo pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter (unsalted)
  • 1 red onion (medium, sliced)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons capers (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 basil (fresh small bunch)
  • 1 parsley (fresh small bunch)
  • 1/2 cup almond (slivers or flakes)

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon (large, juiced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a nonstick medium pan. Add sliced onion and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, occasionally stirring, for about 8-10 minutes. When the onions are golden and caramelized, add the minced garlic.
  2. Add sugar and stir everything for 3 minutes. Use salt and pepper to your taste.
  3. Cook the orzo pasta according to the package. Drain and drizzle a few drops of oil over them. Set them aside to cool down.
  4. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, and salt.
  5. Place pasta, caramelized onions, chopped parsley, basil, capers, and half the almonds in a large bowl.
  6. Add the dressing and toss the salad gently. Make sure the dressing coats all ingredients.
  7. Sprinkle the rest of the almonds over the salad and serve.
  8. The salad will keep well in the refrigerator for three days.

Notes

You can replace orzo with:

- Israelian couscous

- Orecchiette pasta or Farfalle

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 309Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 321mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 7g

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