First of all, I’m so excited that you’re so excited about the new Cookie + Kate app! I had no idea that you wanted an app so badly (why didn’t you tell me?!), but I’m happy that I have one for you now. Please tell your friends and family about the app, and I’ll add more recipes to it soon!
To celebrate, I’m sharing this fresh, bright and irresistible orzo salad recipe. It’s bursting with Mediterranean flavors—juicy orange, parsley, toasted almonds, crumbled feta and Kalamata olives.
I don’t use oranges nearly as often as I use lemon and lime, but this salad reminds me not to overlook those sweet, quiet oranges, especially while they’re in season.
This orzo salad was also a lesson in pasta salads. First lesson? You must rinse the pasta immediately after cooking it so it doesn’t get sticky and lopsided. Adding some of the starchy cooking water to the dressing adds body to the salad, while keeping the oil content in check.
Let the salad marinate for at least 10 minutes, so flavors have time to meld and the pasta has time to absorb some of the moisture. It doesn’t taste all that special until it’s had a little rest, and then it tastes spectacular. Trust me!
If you are an olive hater or raisin hater, just omit those parts. The salad still works well without them, although I like it best as written. You can also omit the feta to make this a vegan salad. It’s so good, however you make it.
This salad was inspired by a salad offered in the deli at a local grocery store called Hen House. Which is to suggest that it packs great for lunch (and picnics, I imagine), and keeps well for several days in the fridge.
As always, please let me know how you like it. If you’re looking for more fresh salads, here they are!
Orange Orzo Salad with Almonds, Feta and Olives
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes (plus 10 minutes for marinating)
- Yield: 6 side servings 1x
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
The best orzo salad recipe, featuring bright, fresh Mediterranean flavors! This healthy salad includes whole grain orzo, fresh parsley, toasted almonds, crumbled feta, green onion and Kalamata olives. Recipe yields 6 side servings.
- 8 ounces whole wheat orzo pasta (I used DeLallo brand)
- ½ cup raw almonds
- 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
- ½ cup chopped green onion
- ½ cup raisins, preferably golden
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (from 1 to 2 oranges, preferably organic)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Before draining, reserve roughly ½ cup pasta cooking water. Drain, and immediately rinse the orzo under cold running water until the orzo is no longer warm. Drain well.
- Toast the almonds in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and turning golden on the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a cutting board and chop them.
- In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked orzo, chopped almonds, parsley, olives, green onion, raisins, and feta (if using).
- In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine the orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and salt. Add ¼ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water, and whisk until blended.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. It might seem like too much dressing at first, but don’t worry. Season with pepper, to taste.
- Let the orzo salad rest for at least 10 minutes (or up to several hours in the refrigerator) so it has time to soak up the dressing. Season to taste with additional salt, if necessary, and serve. Leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Recipe inspired by a salad offered at Hen House grocery stores.
This is my new favorite salad! I thought the ingredients were a little odd together, but it totally works.
I didn’t read the part about reserving the pasta water! Any tips?
What did you decide to do, Jess?
Hi, I think I’m going to try this for friends coming over for dinner this Sat. My question is, if I add chickpeas for more protein and to make it more of a meal, would you then add more of everything else to keep it correctly proportioned? Or just more of the liquid ingredients? Or just add chickpeas without changing anything?
I usually just do trial and error and make recipes my own with adding and subtracting things, but I’m not as inclined to do that with company :-)
Hi Laura, What did you decide to do? Sorry for my delay!
I have to wonder if this recipe and your Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice could get married and have a child. I love any kind of pasta salad, but in an effort to minimize carbs, maybe half orzo/half cauli rice would be a solution. The orange influence of this recipe would pair very well with what I call Bird Brine (Pioneer Woman calls it her Turkey Brine, but I use it for air-fryer rotisserie chicken). It’s basically an orange/apple cider brine, so your citrus-influenced side will be perfection! Last note, I never give stars before trying a recipe, but I’m going out on a ledge and giving this 5 stars. I can tell it’s 5-star just from reading the recipe. Between this and your cauliflower rice recipe, you’ve hit the motherlode.
I love that description, Jenise! Thank you for sharing you variation.
This was very good and I really loved the combination of sweetness and salty components. I used quinoa instead of cous cous since I am trying to cut back on pasta and added some diced baked chicken. My husband and I loved it.
Thank you! I’m glad you liked it with quinoa.
This was very good and I really loved the combination of sweetness and salty components. I used quinoa instead of orzo since I am trying to cut back on pasta and added some diced baked chicken. My husband and I loved it.
This is one of my all time favorite salads, and my kids love it too! I add a couple handfuls of chopped baby spinach and drain the orzo over it to wilt them just a bit.
I made this salad for a neighborhood party, and it was a huge success. Everyone loved it! The couple who threw the party loved it so much that I have made it two additional times just for them. Thank you for this terrific recipe!
Could I swap for black olives instead? Thanks! : )
Hi, you can use a different type of olives if you like or omit.
I have yet to find a recipe of yours that doesn’t wow us!! This was delicious and such a good pick me up on a winter night.
I was curious about how all these flavours would go together …amazing! I love the balance of tangy, sweet and salty. I added some finely shopped spinach which mixed in nicely.
Thanks for another great recipe Kate!
You’re welcome, Tiffany! Thank you for your review.
This dish is much more than the sum of its parts! I didn’t have orzo so I used whole-wheat Israeli couscous. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly, and it was delicious. We ate it with salmon, but I imagine it would take great with everything.
Great to hear, Eileen! Thank you for your review.
This salad is truly phenomenal. I was a little hesitant to try because I usually don’t like orange in salads but I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed considering I never am with your recipes! It’s one of those concoctions that from the first bite, you are blown away; absolutely delicious and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’m delighted you love it, Karen! Thank you for your review.
I have made this countless times. In I usually use orechiette pasta and always add fresh dill in addition to the parsley. Sometimes I fold in some arugala too. I love that the dressing is a light vinaigrette type and the salad is not heavy with oil or mayo. Keeps well in the fridge for leftovers.
Figured I cannot live on your recipe for Healthy Slaw alone, so I reluctantly branched out today and gave this one a try. You’ve done it again – another winning recipe. A great combination of flavours and textures that did not disappoint. Thank you :)
I’m glad you tried it and enjoyed it, Kate! I appreciate your comment.
More orange juice, more oil, and a splash of regular water ♀️
Brought it for a potluck and everyone enjoyed it!
Fabulous salad! Everyone loves this and always ask’s me to make it for family get togethers. Thank you for sharing this receipt!
You’re welcome, Melinda! I appreciate your review.
I just made this for a dinner party. It was easy, full of flavor and the best part was that I made in the morning which made for easy preparation. I love the orange flavor.
Great to hear you enjoyed it, Laurie! I appreciate your review.
I have made this countless times. I used orrechiete pasta and dill instead of parsley. If I have arugala I toss in some before serving. It’s the first pasta salad I’ve had that is not oily and soggy. Keeps very well.
I’m glad you liked it, Anita!
I can’t wait to get an orange so I can make this salad! I’m planning to add the feta after the dressing is mixed-in, and fold it in very lightly, so the bits of white feta stay visible and not disappear into the dressing. I love your recipes – you come up with some wonderful flavor and texture combinations, and eye-appeal too!
I hope you love it, Susan! Thank you for your review.
This looks delicious and I can’t wait to make it. Only problem is I really dislike olives, any ideas for an alternative? Thanks so much for your recipes – your site is a frequent and reliable go to!
Hi, you could omit if you like. I hope you try it!
This is delicious! Thank you, Kate for always providing healthy, easy, AND tasty recipes. I didn’t have whole wheat orzo on hand so I used whole wheat couscous instead. I also cut up a whole orange and added that. Next time, if I have them, I will also add a can of chickpeas for some protein. This salad is a winner!
You’re welcome, Lee! I’m excited you enjoyed it.
This salad is delicious! Love the sweet and salty combo and the complex flavors are incredible! I made it with vegan feta and turned out perfectly! I will definitely be making this one again!
As hard as I have tried I cannot get
I love all of your recipes and enjoy cooking them. You are my go to. Thank you!!
You’re welcome, Julie!
I saw this recipe on instagram and had a leftover orange from Christmas and voila, I had lunch! I made recipe as written but also added some chopped cucumber and grape tomatoes to get more veggies in. Dressing is terrific! I like the idea of adding chick peas too. I will definitely make again soon for a gathering.
Love to hear that! Thank you for your review, Mary.