This Easy Summer Orzo Pasta Salad will soon be a family favorite! A quick 15 minutes and you have a fresh and cool side dish for any summer BBQ or get-together!
Ahhhh summer….weekends at the cabin, graduation parties, family BBQs! In Minnesota, we have a good 3 months out of the year to fit all of these in. It’s only April and my summer weekends are halfway booked up!
When I think of all those events mentioned, the first thing that comes to my mind is pasta salad. No joke! I will go to every single graduation party I am invited to in the hopes of an array of various pasta salads.
So it’s no surprise that when I am asked to bring something to a summer event, this orzo pasta salad is my go-to! My mom has been making this for years and it has always been my favorite. I really think this is where my LOVE for chickpeas and feta started! I can remember we always had the biggest bowl of it in the fridge all summer long and I would just stand over the counter with a spoon and eat right from the bowl (not going to lie, I still do this!).
What is Orzo?
Looks like rice, doesn’t it? It is actually a type of pastina, which is a word used to describe very small pasta. You cook it just like you would any other type of pasta – in a pot of salted boiling water, for 8-10 minutes. Speaking from previous experience…make sure you stir occasionally while cooking! I maaaaay have had an incident where I managed to burn the whole box of orzo, while it was boiling in water.
As the title suggests, this summery pasta salad is super easy! While your orzo is boiling, you can chop and prepare all the other ingredients so you are ready to go. You will need:
- You could also sub in any small pasta. I love the texture smaller pasta gives this salad vs larger types like bowtie or penne. In my option, this is an “eat with a spoon” kind of salad!
- I used a brined kalamata, but green or black work as well.
- Roma Tomatoes
- To be honest, I just started including tomatoes into this recipe in the past year! I had a strong hatred for them all my life, but they are finally growing on me.
- Red Onions
- Be sure to chop these up very fine, unless you like an overpowering-red-onion-spoon-full.
- Chickpeas (or Garbonzo beans)
- These add some great protein as well as a creamy texture!
- It’s hard to choose a favorite element of this salad, but the cool and crispy cucumbers really are the star of the show!
- Use as much or as little of this as you would like! Feta is my absolute favorite cheese, so I used half a block. You can also buy pre-crumbled feta for an even quicker prep time.
- Italian Dressing
- I know, it seems odd to use Italian dressing in a seemingly Greek pasta salad, but it brings all the right flavors with just a hint of sweetness! I just use plain old bottled Italian dressing. You could of course make your own, but remember this is an EASY pasta salad!
Easy Summer Orzo Pasta Salad
First things first, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and then add in 1.5 cups of uncooked Orzo pasta. Cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning to the bottom of the pot!
While this is cooking, chop and prepare your other ingredients. Here is a handy list of what the recipe calls for and how much produce to actually buy!
- 1/2 cup diced red onions = about 1/2 a red onion
- 3/4 cup diced tomatoes = 2 Roma tomatoes
- 2 cups diced cucumbers = 2 medium cucumbers
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta = about a 6oz container of crumbled feta or 1/2 a block
We will also use 1 can of chickpea, 4oz can of sliced olives, and 1/2 cup Italian dressing.
Once the orzo is cooked to perfection, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. I like to run it under the cold water for a few minutes to give the cooling process a head start. Once the orzo is drained really well, add it to a large bowl (preferably one with a lid). Then you simply add in all of your prepared ingredients, drizzle with Italian dressing, and toss!
You can totally eat and serve it right away, but I prefer to put it in the refrigerator and let it cool a little more. You may also notice that as it sits, some of the dressing absorbs. Before serving, give it a taste and see if it needs any more dressing. I always find myself adding a little drizzle! You can also top with some fresh or dried parsley & basil before serving.
This is great to make in the summer and just keep in the fridge for lunch or whenever you need a cool and refreshing snack! No judgment whatsoever if you just eat it with a spoon right out of the bowl 😉.
Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 4-5 days…if they last that long!
I hope you love this Easy Summer Orzo Pasta Salad and it’s your new go-to summer recipe to share!
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Easy Summer Orzo Pasta Salad
- Large Bowl
- 1.5 cups Orzo pasta uncooked
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion about 1/2 an onion
- 3/4 cup diced Roma tomatoes 2 tomatoes
- 2 cups peeled & diced cucumbers 2 medium cucumbers
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta about 6oz container or 1/2 block
- 4 oz sliced olives (kalamata, green or black) canned or jarred
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) rinsed & drained
- 1/2 cup Italian dressing**
- 1 tsp fresh or dried parsley for topping optional
- 1 tsp fresh or dried basil for topping optional
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the Orzo pasta. Cook for 8-10 minutes until tender, then rinse with cold water and drain well.
- In the meantime, chop and prep all of your ingredients.
- Add the pasta and toppings into a large bowl and toss with the Italian dressing.
- Serve right away or for best flavors, let sit in the fridge for about an hour until cool.
- Top with fresh or dried parsley and basil. Enjoy!
More Summer Appetizers & Sides!
- Ranch Cream Cheese Rollups
- Feta & Olive Tapenade
- Smoky Balsamic Onion Jam
- Easy Seasoned French Fries (Oven & Air Fryer)
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