Mediterranean Orzo Pasta Salad – A rainbow of veggies + a bright vinaigrette to make this fresh orzo pasta salad irresistible! (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
This Mediterranean orzo pasta salad has already been in rotation at my house for the last few months. It’s fresh, light, and makes either an amazing meatless main dish or delightful side dish when the weather gets hot.
With a colorful rainbow of veggies and a sunny vinaigrette, this orzo pasta salad is sure to please. Here’s what you need to get started!
HERE’S WHAT I PUT IN MY MEDITERRANEAN ORZO PASTA SALAD:
GLUTEN-FREE ORZO. The base of this fresh orzo pasta salad is orzo. We’re a gluten-free family, so we use this gluten-free orzo from DeLallo. It’s tasty and cooks beautifully. (Not gluten-free? Use regular orzo!)
SPINACH. I love adding some greens to my pasta salad. They add such a pretty pop of color and an easy boost of nutrients. (For a more peppery bite, you can totally use arugula instead!)
CUCUMBER. The fresh, crisp flavor & texture of cucumbers is so refreshing in this salad. It’s perfect when the weather warms up!
TOMATOES. I love using baby tomatoes because they keep their texture a bit better in pasta salad, but whatever you have or like will work! (Bonus points if you use some colorful ones! 😉)
BELL PEPPER. A little bit of mild bell pepper adds so much flavor and a little crunch to this yummy salad. I usually use yellow or orange to play up the different colors in the salad, but any color you enjoy would taste great here!
A LITTLE RED ONION. I don’t love when raw onion overpowers a salad, so I only use a little red onion in my orzo pasta salad. It’s just enough to add flavor, but not enough to take over. You could also swap in sliced green onion if you prefer.
OLIVES. I love a mix of mild olives, like Castelvetrano olives or black olives mixed with a more punchy olive variety, like kalamata or green olives. (I usually pick 2 colors so the salad is even more colorful!)
A BRIGHT FRESH DRESSING. Part of what makes this Mediterranean orzo pasta salad so good is the fresh, tangy dressing. Made of olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper, it’s easy to put together and packs some BIG, delicious flavor!
MORE YUMMY MIX-INS TO TRY IN YOUR ORZO PASTA SALAD:
This Mediterranean salad is so colorful and delicious as it’s written. I LOVE the bright colors and flavors! If you’re looking to make some substitutions or mix things up a bit, here are some other delicious mix-ins to try…
- ARTICHOKE HEARTS. I love artichoke hearts! The marinated ones or water-packed would work here!
- CHICKPEAS. A great way to add some plant-based protein. White beans would also be lovely!
- ROASTED PEPPERS. Instead of raw peppers, try swapping in softer jarred roasted bell peppers (or make your own!)
- MILD PEPERONCINI PEPPERS. I love the tangy zip of some peperoncini peppers! These little yellow banana peppers are pickled and not too spicy (just make sure you’re buying the mild ones unless you want some serious kick!).
- ARUGULA. The peppery bite of fresh arugula is delicious in this orzo pasta salad if you’re not feeling spinach.
- BASIL. Wake up the flavor even more with a little fresh basil! I love doing this when I have some on hand.
- SUN-DRIED TOMATOES. For a deeper, richer flavor, 1/4-1/3 cup or so of diced sun-dried tomatoes is fantastic in my orzo pasta salad. (I like the olive oil packed tomatoes.)
- SHRIMP, CHICKEN OR SALAMI. Not vegan or vegetarian? You could totally add some cooked shrimp, diced grilled chicken, or diced salami to this salad to keep the Mediterranean vibes going!
- DICED MOZZARELLA, CRUMBLED FETA, OR SHREDDED PARMESAN CHEESE. Similarly, if you include dairy in your diet, it’s hard to go wrong with some mozzarella, feta, or Parmesan cheese!)
FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST MEDITERRANEAN ORZO PASTA SALAD:
FYI – ORZO WILL CONTINUE TO ABSORB THE DRESSING. I usually don’t add quite all the dressing up front so that I can “wake up” leftovers if they’ve been in the fridge. Orzo will continue absorbing liquid, so if your salad needs a little more dressing, a drizzle of olive oil, or squeeze of lemon juice, feel free to add it to the leftovers!
MY FAVORITE OLIVE OIL. My favorite olive oil is from Queen Creek Olive Mill. This family-run company uses sustainable practices & farming techniques and makes the most AMAZING olive oil. Their balanced oil is our day-to-day favorite, but we also love their Meyer Lemon and Fresh Crush Basil olive oils, which could be used for 1/2 the olive oil in this orzo pasta salad for even more flavor. Use code “onelovelylife” for 10% off your first order!
HOW LONG WILL THIS STAY FRESH? Your orzo pasta salad will keep well for about 3-4 days. The veggies will continue to soften, but the salad will be safe to eat and delicious for about 3-4 days.
WHAT KIND OF GLUTEN-FREE ORZO DO YOU USE? I usually use Delallo brand gluten-free orzo since it’s easiest for me to find, but I also just ordered some of this grain-free orzo (made from cassava flour!) from Jovial.
CRAVING MORE FRESH & EASY SALADS? YOU MIGHT LIKE:
- Lemon Dill Shrimp Orzo Salad
- Confetti Quinoa Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
- Vegan Broccoli Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
- Thai Cucumber Salad
- Farmer’s Market Quinoa Salad
HELPFUL INGREDIENTS + TOOLS FOR THIS PASTA SALAD RECIPE: