Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

Here in California, the weather is sunny and beautiful. This type of weather is exactly the kind that makes me want to eat something cold and delicious on a breezy patio somewhere. The dish here is exactly the kind of dish that I love to eat on such a day ... behold the Mediterranean Orzo salad. Not only is this dish tasty, but it is a complete, filling dish that is chock full of protein, something that many cold dishes are not.

The beauty of this dish is that you can substitute your favorite types of ingredients to make a salad that is truly your own.

Here's the recipe:

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup faux chicken broth (made with Better Than Bouillon brand no chicken base)
6 oz. orzo
1 1/2 cups cannellini or Great Northern beans (about one 15 oz. can), rinsed and drained
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Feta cheese for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo, cover, and simmer until the pasta is just tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.

Transfer to a large bowl, add the cannellini beans and tomatoes, and stir to combine. Let cool slightly.

Stir in the olives, lemon zest and juice, dill, salt and pepper. Chill in the refrigerator until the salad is cold throughout. Serve on a shallow, chilled salad plate and sprinkle crumbled feta cheese (vegan or regular) on top of salad. Finish off with a sprig of fresh dill on top.

Delicious Swaps

Olives: You can swap out the kalamata olives for any olives that you prefer, such as mild black olives, mixed herb French or salty, delicious Spanish olives. I am an olive whore, I admit, I will eat any type of olive any time!

Tomatoes: Ahh, tomatoes. Tomato season is upon us and there are soo many delicious tomatoes from which to choose. You can substitute any kind of tomato into this dish, including some of my favorites: vine-ripened Early girl, Roma, Brandywine and Tigrella.

I hope you enjoyed this yummy cold orzo salad. Enjoy this salad on a sunny afternoon, while sitting on a patio and counting your blessings.


The Vegan Voice


  1. I need some of your weather there. It's still cold and gloomy here. But I'm sure your lovely dish will cheer me p. Thanks for sharing other ingredients to use.

  2. Oh yum! I love orzo AND mediterranean flavors. Perfect! :]

    -Noelle xO

  3. That's a lovely salad Nancy - just the kind of thing I might stir up for myself if I didn't have to worry about anyone else but myself. The fact that it's served cold makes it even better!

  4. Loved the dish, so full of flavour.
    I do really miss the nice sunny days of my home country.
    All the best x

  5. Orzo salads are a summer staple in this house- so versatile! Great post
    xoxo pattie

  6. Your Orzo salad looks delicious, Nancy! It contains all my favorite foods: feta, olives, garlic, lemon, dill, and cannellini beans! I cant wait for the weather to be sunny enough for this salad :)

  7. Fantastic salad Prima. Here in Miami it's about 500F so this refreshing salad would be pefect. Great confluence of flavors and a hint of acid from the lemon. 10 out of 10.

  8. Cold salads are perfect for warm summer days...especially when they are chock full of Mediterranean goodness! Sounds delicious.

  9. Orzo salad is really new to me, but looks so healthy!

  10. Hi Nancy, I love orzo-it feels so good on the palate. I can't quite explain it, but I love the feel of this type of pasta.
    I've never made a cold salad with it, but this would be perfect here in Florida. It's starting to get hot here! I'm going to use your recipe, as I want to make sure it stays juicy after chilling-you know how pasta has a habit of absorbing everything around it...

  11. Ooo, this sounds delish! Its still snowing where I am so I'll wait for warmer weather to try it, but its definitely going to be tested!

  12. love mediterranean food!!the salad looks tempting, will be great on a warm day like today!!great post

  13. I am very sorry to the following friends of ours. When moderating some of the comments I hit reject instead of publish...Purely accidental on my part. However I retrieved them from my gmail account so here they are...

    By the way, thank you supporting Nancy and I we really appreciate it more than words can express...

    Chef E...I need to hit the market when I return home, and Orzo is just what speaks to me, especially yours!

    Sarah...I wish I didn't see snow on the ground. Yes, snow! Can hardly wait for summer and having this wonderful salad.

    Rick...Orzo orzo orzo. I love those little pasta things. The feta looks great on it.

    Bonnie...I have been thinking of salads this week. Summer salads to have on hand for lunches on the porch or in the garden. All of these ingredients sound made for one another. It's a sure bookmark!

    Thanks, Lazaro, for your good wishes for Jilly (who just came through a second surgery much better and is doing well) and Argos (who is lazing about enjoying life as he knows it now--we're taking it one day at a time).


    Lyndsey...I love these salads, and it's so nice to add what appeals to you. Nice addition of the Great Northern beans, I like that!

    Ann...Sounds delicious!

    Marley...This looks delicious...and healthy! My favorite combination. Can't wait to try this recipe!

    Roxan...Mmmmmm, another great recipe, Lazaro! By the way, where in CA are you? I'm in west LA... Weather is gorgeous.

    Andra...Ooo, this sounds delish! Its still snowing where I am so I'll wait for warmer weather to try it, but its definitely going to be tested! can bet I won't do that again...What a mission!


  14. Looks delectable! I love orzo. This is perfect for spring time.

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma, What's For Dinner

  15. Really important to have some protein with every meal...and so often we skip that with our salads.

    Perfect salad for us in's 90 today!

  16. These exactly the kind of flavors we crave for this time of the year, an excellent orzo salad!

  17. Salads like this one sounds so good right now! It is rather warm here and I dont want to think of anything heavy; your salad hits the spot beautifully.

  18. Hello Nancy from Palo Alto, we're neighbors! that is definitely the kind of salad I want to eat right now, fresh, light and healthy. Great recipe!

  19. Nancy, I love what you've done with your Orzo Salad. Lemon and dill are perfect, but I probably wouldn't have thought of the beans. I have a lot to learn about being vegetarian, but I'm taking good notes and enjoying each and every one of your posts. Enjoy your California weather. I'm envious.

  20. I bought some organic orzo from the store today and was wondering if I should make a cold salad or a creamy one. I think you have just helped me decide. Love all the flavors in there.

  21. Sometimes all I want is veggies, no meat. This hits the spot!


  22. Wow! What an array of flavors. I can taste them dancing happily in my mouth right now. Great choices of ingredients. This salad sounds wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

  23. I'm a total olive whore as well. Love this dish. And glad to have discovered your blog too!

  24. Please send some of your weather our way! We can't seem to get Springtime weather.

    This looks declicious! I love olives and all of the flavors in this salad!

  25. This is my kind of salad! We've been hit with an early heatwave and I would certainly enjoy this! Delicious.

  26. The weather is totally opposite here in Seattle. It's still chilly in Spring time..however, I think I can mange to try this recipe at home with the heat on!

  27. MAKING THIS! YUM! Thanks for another great recipe!

  28. I heart orzo. But what pasta don't I love???
    I always take the quick route on weekdays and it's usually paired with a protein, veg, and then a cream or tomahto sauce. But as a salad, brilliant!

    I need to try this. *bookmarks*.
    My bookmark list is getting out of control like my foodbuzz inbox... :p

  29. This looks great and ideal for the hot weather here. I miss the mild California weather.

  30. This looks amazing Lazaro! I'm cooking this tomorrow :) Thx for sharing. Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!

  31. love the orzo, similar to how I make the picture as well....! have a great weekend :)

  32. I can never get enough Orzo in my life! I make a similar salad but without the beans. Love that idea and I'll need to incorporate them next time.

  33. This looks great! I love this kind of recipe in the spring and summer!

  34. Ohh, I would love some of this right now!

  35. I love the flavors in this dish. This definitely would be a great warm weather recipe.

  36. ooo the combination of flavors must be devine! I'm obsessed with Mediterranean cooking!


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