Summer Orzo Salad

This recipe for summer orzo salad is quick and easy to prepare, and make a perfect side dish or light meal in the summertime.

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A table setting with a large bowl of summer orzo salad, two plates of chicken with the salad and some white wine.

Easy Summer Orzo Salad

If you’re looking for a summer pasta side dish that is not your traditional macaroni salad with mayonnaise-based dressing, you’ve come to the right place! This summer orzo salad uses delicious summer vegetables and a couldn’t-be-easier dressing, making it a light, bright and colorful addition to your summer BBQs and more. 

Looking down into a skillet with onion an zucchini next to a bowl of cooked orzo and some other ingredients - roasted red pepper, grated Parmesan cheese, toasted pinenuts and spinach.

Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad

If you’re a home gardener and are faced with a surplus of zucchini, I want you to put this recipe in a special place for the end of summer. It is yet another delicious way to use up the abundant squash. Start by sautéing some zucchini and onion with a little garlic and oregano. You can do this while the orzo pasta boils. Another summer veg ingredient is roasted red pepper. Again, if you’re a gardener you might have your own that you can roast and peel. Otherwise, using a jar of roasted red peppers is just fine. The other tasty ingredients in this salad are spinach, basil, some toasted pinenuts and some Parmesan cheese.

Looking down into a bowl with all the ingredients for a summer orzo salad, with a yellow striped towel next to it.

Summer Orzo Salad Dressing

Because we’re keeping things really simple with this summer side dish, we’re not making a dressing to pour over the top. Instead, we’re dressing the salad “à la minute” by just pouring some white balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the top, with salt and pepper to taste. Not sure if you have enough vinegar? Taste it and add a little more. This is an easy going recipe that is very forgiving. 

Pouring olive oil into a summer orzo salad with a wooden spoon sticking out of a stainless steel bowl.

What to Serve with Summer Orzo Salad

This light and breezy summer orzo salad can really go with anything and is also great as a light lunch all on its own. It’s colorful, full of good ingredients and very tasty. I like it next to some BBQ chicken or as one of several salads on a summer buffet table. It keeps really well too, so pop the leftovers into the refrigerator and let it sit out again for 15 to 20 minutes before serving the next day. 

Spooning summer orzo salad out onto white plates with red and white checkered napkins and forks on the table.

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Summer Orzo Salad

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 11 m
  • Total Time: 26 m
  • Servings:
    to 8 people


  • 12 ounces dried orzo pasta 1⅔ cup
  • Olive oil
  • ¼ Vidalia onion diced
  • 1 medium zucchini cubed
  • 1 clove garlic minced (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A big handful or two coarsely chopped fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup roasted red pepper diced
  • cup toasted pine nuts
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chiffonade fresh basil


  1. Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pasta pot. Cook the orzo for 11 minutes. Drain the orzo, rinsing it briefly with warm water. Place the orzo in a large bowl.
  2. While the orzo is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil and sauté the diced onion for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Add the zucchini, garlic, and dried oregano. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes longer, just until the zucchini just starts to soften. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the bowl with the orzo.
  3. Add the spinach, roasted peppers, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese to the bowl, drizzle in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and toss to combine all the ingredients. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  4. Before serving, stir in the fresh basil and serve warm or at room temperature. This salad can be made up to 2 days before serving.
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