This vegetarian Mediterranean orzo pasta salad with crunchy vegetables and spinach, briny olives, and feta cheese makes a healthy, easy-to-make, meal-prepped meal or flavorful pasta salad side.
I LOVE any recipe that shines with Mediterranean flavors, and this orzo salad is just one example of that fact. Because if you’ve been a reader here for a while, or perused my recipe archives, you’ll see, Mediterranean recipes are very well represented. and I just can’t get enough, because when I make this pasta salad, I literally eat it all week long.
Ever since the Mediterranean Diet was named best diet to follow in 2018 and 2019, Mediterranean recipes here on FoodieCrush have been some of the most searched of the year. And this vegetarian orzo salad served as a main meal or side pasta salad is a VERY good one to add to the ever-growing list.
This Mediterranean orzo salad is a little bit Greek, a little bit Italian, and every bit delicious.
What’s In this Mediterranean Orzo Salad
It’s time to skip the deli case and make this salad at home. This cold orzo pasta salad uses ingredients you can easily keep stocked in your fridge and pantry, especially if you’re into healthier eating.
Here’s what you’ll need for this orzo pasta salad:
- Orzo pasta
- Red bell pepper
- Red onion
- Castelvetrano green olives
- Kalamata pitted olives
- Baby spinach
- Feta cheese
- Canola oil
- Olive oil
- Kosher and black pepper
Orzo Salad Ingredient Substitutions
You can swap other Greek or Italian ingredients for those in the list above, like:
- Artichoke hearts
- Tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes
- Green peppers or roasted peppers
- Grilled eggplant
- Garbanzo or cannellini beans
- Mediterranean marinated chicken
- Grilled shrimp
How to Make This Orzo Pasta Salad
The heart of this pasta salad is the short orzo noodle. Always choose a high quality pasta, Italian-made DeLallo is my favorite. Be sure to cook the pasta al denté as it will absorb the dressing as it sits, and you don’t want the noodles to become mushy. Rinse and drain the pasta and make sure it’s cool before adding the other ingredients.
Chop the vegetables in same bite-size pieces so the flavors are equally enjoyed with each forkful. Roughly tear the baby spinach leaves in big pieces for the best green, leafy bites.
To make things easier, choose pitted olives. More meaty and less tart, Castelvetrano green olives are my favorite green olive. Paired with the more briny kalamata olive, they make the perfect pair.
When it comes to feta cheese, always choose the block feta instead of crumbles, which can taste more chalky and dry.
The Pasta Salad Dressing
There isn’t much to this dressing except for the glorious fact that It’s easy to make. But, if you have my Greek salad dressing in the fridge, feel free to use it instead.
I use a combination of extra virgin olive oil and canola oil for this recipe. The canola oil is milder than olive oil so the combination makes a mellower dressing that flavors but doesn’t take over.
Fresh lemon juice is always best, especially in this dressing. I used the juice of 1 lemon, but depending on how juicy yours are, add more to taste. To make your lemons more juicy, pop them in the microwave for 15 seconds.
I use dried oregano for that herby feeling, but feel free to try dried basil or Italian seasoning instead.
Make This Pasta Salad the Day Before
All of the ingredients in this pasta salad hold up well and develop even more flavor over time, making it a great pasta salad recipe to make ahead of time for meal prep, picnics, bbqs and parties.
This pasta salad can be made the day before serving and will last in the refrigerator for up to one week.
What Goes with Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- The Best Greek Chicken Marinade
- Mediterranean Grilled Pork Chops With Tomato Salad
- Easy Chicken Gyros With Tzatziki Sauce
- Mediterranean Grilled Balsamic Chicken With Olive Tapenade
- Easy Greek Chicken Kebabs
- Pork Souvlaki With Lemon Rice
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
- 16 ounces orzo
- 3 cups baby spinach leaves , gently torn into large pieces
- 1 ½ chopped red bell pepper , about one red bell pepper￼
- 1 cup cucumber , diced and seeded, about one medium
- ¾ cup red onion , diced￼
- 5 ounces Castelvetrano green olives , drained and halved
- 5 ounces Kalamata pitted olives , drained and halved
- 7 ounces feta cheese
- ½ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lemon , juiced
- 1 ½ teaspoons oregano￼
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and cook the orzo for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse￼, and set aside to cool.
- Transfer the cooled orzo to a large mixing bowl. Add the spinach, chopped vegetables, and olives, then crumble half of the feta cheese over the pasta.
- In a small bowl, whisk the canola oil, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and salt and pepper until mixed. Pour the vinaigrette over the pasta mixture and gently fold until the pasta and veggies are coated. Taste for seasoning and top with the remaining feta cheese.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight before serving. The pasta is best within 2-3 days, but will last in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
More Pasta Salads to Make Now
- Greek Pasta Salad With Cucumbers And Artichoke Hearts
- Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
- BLT Pasta Salad With Avocado
- Creamy Tuscan Pasta Salad
- Easy Italian Spaghetti Pasta Salad
- 30 Healthy Summer Potluck Salads
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Soooo good! And it is true, it gets better the next day and the next day. I used cubed pepper jack cheese, because my husband does not like feta. I am making it again tonight:)
Is there any vinegar in this vinaigrette?
Hi Rachel! We use lemon juice here, but you could use red wine vinegar if you wanted!
Love this recipe. A family and potluck favorite!
I’m glad you enjoyed Debra!
I made this today and thought it was delicious. I threw in some fresh oregano leaves because I had them. I didn’t add the dressing until I was ready to eat it because I can’t stand soggy anything! The beauty of this dish is whatever you have in your fridge can be added. Thank you for the yummy and healthy recipe.
I’m glad you enjoyed it Liz!
I’ve made this a couple of times, now. It’s a fantastic salad to make on these hot summer days. It’s fine on its own or with chicken thighs roasted in air fryer. Thanks for the recipe.
I’m glad you enjoyed it!
We love this salad! It’s become our go to when we’re wondering what to do for dinner.
I’m glad you enjoy it Steve!
This recipe makes A LOT!! Which is a good thing because it is awesome for lunch the next day and to give away to your favorite neighbors who always bring you cookies! The only modification I made was to use dried basil in the dressing. I don’t care for the taste of plain oregano. But OMG healthy, fresh and delish!!
And I used Gluten Free orzo, which is available on Amazon
I’m glad you enjoyed it Bonnie!
This recipe was so delicious! The brightness of the lemon juice was the perfect touch! It makes a huge amount, but can easily be scaled down, and I love that you can add or subtract ingredients with whatever you have on hand- thanks for sharing!
I’m glad you enjoyed it!
I used Farro and bottled Greek Dressing! It is delicious-a definite go-to!
I’m glad you enjoyed it Brenda!
Very nice salad! Love to pair this with salmon. Vinaigrette is VERY bland (tastes like oil) so I added more lemon and salt. Even threw in some basil.
I’m glad you enjoyed it Jane!
I haven’t tried an orzo recipe. This looks like a tasty one to start with.
I just finished making this salad for tomorrow but I was wondering if I should add the spinach now or wait until tomorrow?
Love love love this Salad!
Add this salad tonight and it was so refreshing. It complimented my spaghetti and meatball dinner perfectly. The hubby was so thrilled with dinner. I will make it again. Thank you!
This salad is gorgeous and delish and company-worthy!! My husband thought I bought it at a restaurant and pretended it was mine! This will be my all-time side dish to take to any pot-luck or party from now on!!
OMG this is the BEST healthy pasta salad I have made ever!! I used my garlic oil (EVOO) instead of the oils listed in the recipe. Bomb.com!!
Excellent orzo salad recipe. I cut back on the oil used, personal preference , and it was amazing!!!
Excellent salad and mid-week you can add grilled chicken or salmon for a nice lunch. This recipe made a ton of salad so consider cutting it in half.
The salad is so delicious, I could not stop eating it!
This is excellent for a picnic, because you don’t have to worry about mayo. The dressing is so light and flavorful. It compliments the rest of the ingredients. Like many others, I also added a few other things I had in the frig and pantry. I will make again and again.
Only used half the amount of Orzo because that’s all I had, but it was plenty! This made a lot. Added tomatoes, and artichoke hearts because I didn’t have enough bell pepper and olives. The dressing is great and plenty of it. Delicious! Will definitely be making it again. Thank you.
Happy to hear you enjoyed Deanna!
I loved this salad. It was perfect just as recipe. No changes necessary. The only remark I have was my olives were very salty. Other than that yummy
So glad you enjoyed it Terrie!
Made this tonight for dinner and will definitely be making it again. I added a pound of cooked, cubed chicken for protein. My family LOVED this. It’s a great summertime meal!
I am so glad you enjoyed it Michelle!
Thanks so much for this recipe. I have made this salad three times in the past few weeks, and it is my new go-to for potlucks this summer.
I am so happy you enjoyed it Kara.
All I will say is yummmmmm! One of my top favorites
I made this wonderful salad exactly as written the first time and it was delicious. The second time I substituted quite a bit with what I had handy because I hate going to the store once I’m home and comfy. I swapped a really good red wine vinegar for the lemon juice; basil for the oregano; pecorino-reggiano for the feta, then threw in a few roasted red pepper strips and it was great. Everyone loved it and I handed out your original recipe and website! The next day I added little cubes of salami, more basil and some mozzarella pearls and it made a refreshing and delicious lunch. Thanks so much!
So glad you enjoyed it Pam, and that you swapped in a few ingredients to switch it up too. Thanks for the comment!
Perfect recipe! We made this last week for dinner by the pool with friends and it was a hit. We had enough leftover for the remainder of the week and it kept really well. This will be a keeper for sure!
Thanks for making and sharing it Regena, and glad you could eat it through the week for less cooking :)
Sooooo good! I added garbanzo beans for protein and used only olive oil because I love the flavor.
Great idea to add the garbanzo beans. I love ’em too.
Not a fan of feta cheese. What other kind would work in this recipe. Sounds relish !
Patti, try goat cheese or skip the cheese.
Just made this. Wonderful! Will make again!
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
Thank you Phyllis!
Added extra lemon juice , artichoke hearts and crushed garlic. Turned out delicious. Probably will taste even better tomorrow!
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
Thanks fo rthe tip!
I thought it came out pretty good but needed extra flavor as it was a little bland. I drizzled a little Italian dressing on top and mixed it up with the olive oil dressing. It was even better that way!
I too added a little Italian dressing, along with the recipes dressing. I really enjoyed this said and will make again! Thanks for the recipe and Sarah, thanks for the too!
So so SOOOO delicious and simple! And you’re right; it tastes even better the day after!
So glad you liked it too Vasyl :) and yes, like us, it gets better with age :)
I love everything Mediterranean! This pasta salad looks impressive with all the beautiful and colourful ingredients in it. It’s your perfect Sunday brunch dish along with a glass of wine.