Orzo Super Salad

Orzo Super Salad Recipe

I thought we could chat a bit about orzo salads today. Do you see one at just about every potluck or group picnic you go to? Or is it just me? Whether or not you like orzo salads, you have to respect them to a certain extent. I mean, after surviving the perils of transport, they often assume their position on whatever table beckons, and then endure hour upon hour exposed to the elements. A tough job for any salad. Inspired by a bag of whole wheat orzo I had on-hand, I decided to take a stab at a new version. One that is less pasta-centric than most, made from ingredients that can handle a ride around town on the back of a ten-speed or scooter. One that can handle some time at the beach or park. I used the whole wheat orzo as the base and then packed in as much super-nutritious goodness as I could - almonds, avocado, cucumbers, sprouts, asparagus, feta and baby broccoli.

Orzo Salad Recipe

And I have to tell you, it turned out great. A little crunch from the almonds, cucumber, and asparagus. A little creaminess from the feta and avocado. A bit of zip from the lemony dressing. And so much green!

I'm sure this isn't the last orzo salad I'll make this year. I'm thinking that the next one will likely be with slow-roasted tomatoes, once the summer crops arrive. But I'm always open to suggestions and ideas.

Orzo Super Salad Recipe

If you are going to transport this to an outdoor picnic or potluck, place all of the ingredients, layered, in a big bowl or container. Toss the avocado gently with a bit of lemon juice ahead of time - so it doesn't brown. Make sure there are a few inches of head room in the container, and you'll need some sort of lid. Carry the dressing in a separate jar. When you are ready to serve the salad, gently toss the ingredients with the dressing using your hands, or leave the lid on the container and gently shake/tumble it - not ideal but it works. You can double or triple this recipe to serve more of a crowd. To make it vegan, you know the drill, skip the feta. And GF-ers, you can swap in a gluten-free grain/rice (for the orzo) and make a grain salad out of this instead.

1 cup dried (whole wheat) orzo pasta
8 - 10 medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
1/2 a medium head of broccoli (or broccolini), cut into small trees
small handful of cilantro(or mint if you prefer), chopped

1 small clove of garlic, mashed with a big pinch of salt and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

a small handful of sprouts
1/3 cup almonds, toasted
1/2 small cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium avocado, sliced into small pieces
1/4 cup feta, crumbled

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and boil the orzo per package instructions. Avoid over-boiling, you want your orzo to be cooked through, but maintain structure. About 30 seconds before the orzo is finished cooking stir the asparagus and broccoli into the orzo pot. Cook for the final 30 seconds, drain and run under a bit of cold water. Just long enough to stop the cooking.

In the meantime, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and more salt (if needed) into the dressing. Set aside.

When you are ready to serve the salad toss the orzo, asparagus, broccoli, and cilantro with about half the dressing. Add more dressing if needed, and toss well. Now add the sprouts, almonds, cucumber, avocado, and feta. Very gently toss a couple of times to distribute those ingredients throughout the salad and serve.

Serves 4.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • I love the picture of the cucumber!

    Margy
  • I can say with all honesty I have never seen an orzo salad at a potluck, But then again I am from the south and we take things like turnip greens and cornbread. But I do like orzo very much, and I adore fresh veggies, and this looks marvelous! I am actually attending a potluck Sunday at church, so this may be my offering. A good salad is always welcome. Thanks, Heidi!

    Ally
  • You know, I usually skip orzo because I've never seen a whole wheat version! I'll have to look for that. Thanks for the great recipe, as always.

    Michelle @ Find Your Balance
  • This is super gorgeous and comes at a perfect time - TWO bbqs this weekend. :) Thanks so much!

    Maggie @ EatBoutique.com
  • I've never seen whole wheat orzo. I just made an orzo pasta salad for our last family picnic. You're right; pasta salad is easy to make and easy to transport, which are both important considerations when you're planning a picnic.

    Jackie @ PhamFatale.com
  • You're right--orzo is ubiquitous, and for good reason. I really cannot resist anything with avocados in it. Good call.

    The Leftoverist
  • Looks fantastic. I think the goat cheese probably really brings all the flavors together well! My BF transported a pizza he made to my parents house on the back of his scooter and it didn't fit in the back compartment, so he rode it all the way there uncovered and exposed to the elements! Somehow it made it and it was good. I am sure you are more careful with your orzo!

    Morta Di Fame
  • yum, what a great idea to add all those yummy veggies...and sprouts! my favorite. my favorite orzo salad is with garbanzo beans, green onions, feta, dill, lemon juice and olive oil. yum!

    veggievixen
  • Beautiful photos! I love all the white. Nice reminder to use up that box of whole-wheat orzo in my cupboard.

    Anna
  • I'm pretty sure that at least half of the people at the potlucks I go to don't even know what orzo is, haha. Maybe I'll make this for the next potluck and find out :)

    cdelphine
  • That has to be one of the most refreshing summery salad. of all pasta salads, orzo is my favorite, mostly becoz of the size & it does not overshadow the the other things that go with it.

    Soma
  • Creative, beautiful dish! We love creating orzo dishes too - thanks for the idea!

    cheffresco
  • Looks excellent. I like that you're making it less pasta-y. Hrm. Perhaps I haven't been to that many potlucks recently, but I RARELY see orzo salads. Of course I'm avoiding gluten lately so I guess I shouldn't have it anyway....hehe. Lovely eye candy though...

    Hannah Handpainted
  • Orzo is my favorite summer pasta for some reason. My favorite way to prepare it is tossed with a wide selection of grilled vegetables (whatever I get from my CSA that week) that I chop up small. Just a tiny drizzle of cream (I'm a little decadent that way) and some Parmigiano and my taste buds are singing! HS: I love the idea of a splash of cream w/ a warm orzo salad. It's nice that you don't actually need much cream at all to get a bit of decadence. What about a bit of cream infused with some lemon zest? Along with your Parmigiano and some fresh herbs - sounds delicious.

    Michele Morris
  • I've seen beautiful orzo salads over the years and always meant to make one, I just never got around to it. This looks like it will be the perfect recipe to break that trend!

    Sarah (Coffee Beans and Curry Leaves)
  • Looks wonderful! Funny, because I just made my first-ever orzo salad, but I served it hot and "cooked" tomatoes in citrus juice for it. Sure wish I could have found whole wheat orzo!

    Matt (No Meat Athlete)
  • Orzo is probably my favorite grain-like non-grain, and this salad looks like the perfect solution to the perpetual question of what to bring to a picnic or potluck. I think I'm going to make something with orzo tonight to get into the spirit!

    Claudia at Weird Vegetables
  • Great flavors here! The cilantro, avo, lemon, feta! Love this.

    The Duo Dishes
  • This looks fantastic! I love pasta salads but they are often too heavy.

    Marsha
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