Quick and Easy Orzo Summer Salad with Lemon Dressing

This recipe is part of my main ones across the summer season. This orzo salad is very quick and so easy to make, very fresh and nutritious, filled with good things. Also, it’s very versatile as you’ll be able to adapt it according to your preferences or to the season. I’ve always enjoyed pasta salad in summer as we don’t always feel like eating a lot or anything that’s gonna be warm or hot and tend to end up having a plate of raw veggies, which I’m not fond of. This salad is full of Mediterranean flavours with some herbs, zucchini, feta cheese and olives !

With this recipe, you might have found a perfect weeknight meal that you can get ready in advance or an amazing side dish when having a party or outdoor summer lunch with friends and family. It for sure will please everyone around the table and across all generations ! I’ve always thought that pasta requires a lot of seasoning, hence this salad is built around sharp flavours which will enhance very well the hearty pasta taste and texture.

I used to make all my pasta salads with, let’s say “regular” pasta shape-wise, mostly penne and fusili. Though, I always thought these were not the easiest to eat, especially in a salad dish, as it makes it more difficult to pick all the ingredients at once, hence gathering all the flavours in a single bite. But this was before. Before what? Before I knew about pastina – aka small size pasta – and particularly orzo which has become one of my favourites. This pasta ressembles a rice grain in its shape, but is quite bigger than that. I also took a real lesson on pasta cooking when I read the instructions on the pack. It said that as soon as the pastas are drained you should rinse them with water to remove the starch surplus, making the pastas less sticky but also healthier ! The orzo cooks in 6 to 8 minutes which is a real advantage if you’re looking for quick meal preps 🙂

This recipe is quick to prepare, though you should take into account the cooling time for the pasta and zucchini, but you could totally meal-prep that a day early and put the final touches on the day. This orzo salad basically contains grilled zucchini, a little crumbled feta, some herbs, seeds and finally black olives – I selected the Lucques variety from the Languedoc region in the south of France, yes, let’s not forget too much about the local aspect in here – It’s delicious, healthy and amazingly nutritious, especially when the zesty lemony sauce is added to it and makes the dish so well balanced enhancing all ingredients flavors !


RECIPE serves 2

Prep time: 10 minutes  Cook time: 15 minutes Chill time: ≈ 2 hours

You will need:

  • 160g orzo pasta
  • 2 small zucchinis
  • Feta cheese to taste
  • 10 black olives
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • Handful parsley
  • 2 mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp linen seeds
  • Handful silvered almonds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Lemon sauce

  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • Finely grated lemon zest to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: 

Heat up a pot of salted water to cook the pasta.

While the water heats up, prepare the zucchinis cutting them into large dices – about 1.5 cm – and mince the garlic. With a table spoon of olive oil, start pan-frying the zucchini dices and garlic together with a pinch of salt. It should take about 8 to 10 minutes.

When the water boils, add the orzo and bring to a simmer. Let cook the pasta for 6 to 8 minutes – 6 minutes is enough on my end as I like pasta better al dente. Drain the pasta and rinse with water to remove the starch surplus. Then, transfer to a bowl, add a tablespoon of olive oil and coat the pasta to avoid that they stick to one another. Let the pasta cool down and place in the fridge.

Place the zucchinis in a container when cooked, add some black pepper and let cool down before placing in the fridge.

For the sauce, mix together all the ingredients and store in the fridge.

In a small pan, roast the silvered almonds for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat until they turn light brown.

When the pasta and zucchinis are cold, you can start combining the elements. Chop some parsley and the mint leaves, add to the pasta with the linen seeds and half of the lemon sauce. Toss the preparation. Then add up the zucchinis and mix together. Finally, top up crumbling some feta over the pasta, the Lucques olives – I suggest you remove the pit – and silvered almonds. Add more lemon sauce and black pepper to the salad!

That’s all you need to do for this quick and easy orzo summer salad 🙂

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