Lemon Basil Greek Orzo Salad
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Lemon Basil Greek Orzo Salad – EASY, ready in 25 minutes, and lemon and basil give it such a FRESH taste!! Feeds a crowd, great for parties, picnics, and potlucks! Or perfect for meal prep weekday lunches and HEALTHY dinners!!
Lemon Basil Greek Orzo Chickpea Salad
This recipe is a spinoff of my Greek Lemon Chicken and Orzo which was one of my personal favorite recipes of 2019. I just had to make it again, but with a twist. As a food blogger, I can’t make the same thing twice until I forgot about this Lemon Basil Orzo and Vegetables which is similar, but they all have their own spin.
This version is vegetarian, and would be vegan if you kept the feta cheese out or used a vegan cheese. You’ll never miss the meat (or chicken) in this salad because there are so many awesome layers of flavors and textures.
The orzo is perfectly al dente, there are lightly caramelized onions, sautéed zucchini, sweet cherry tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, fresh spinach, garbanzo beans for protein, and the lemon-basil combo is right up our alley.
Between lemon juice, lemon zest, basil, Italian seasoning, oregano, garlic, and onions, I’m telling you the flavor factor in this dish is at a Level Ten.
The feta cheese is so well-suited for this recipe. It pairs excellently with the lemon notes in this dish and even if you’re not the biggest feta fan because it can be strong and sharp, I wouldn’t omit it unless you’re trying to keep this vegan. It really makes the finished dish taste even better.
How To Make Greek Orzo Salad With Vegetables
First boil the orzo and while that’s going, sauté an onion, then add zucchini, garbanzo beans, garlic, and season everything generously with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and oregano.
To a very large bowl, add the cooked and drained orzo, onion mixture, along with fresh spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, lemon zest, lemon juice, and basil.
Taste it and don’t be afraid to add more salt and pepper since this dish is a zillion times better when properly seasoned and also because you have a humongous bowl of food.
Add crumbled feta for a classic Greek touch. If you add it when the orzo and other ingredients are still warm, it will likely melt a bit. If you want to retain visible crumbles, wait a bit until things have cooled down. Either way, the taste is awesome, and this is more of a visual consideration.
Finally, drizzle in additional olive oil, to taste. This enhances the flavor and it prevents the orzo from sticking as it cools.
Since this is a ‘pasta salad’, there are no rules in my book about what substitutions or additions you can make.
Add green onions, red or marinated bell peppers, marinated artichokes, or olives are just a few additions that would be lovely.
I used English cucumbers and cherry tomatoes but if you have a garden full of regular cucumbers and regular tomatoes, go for it.
This salad will help you enjoy the bounty of your garden when that time of the year is upon us.
- 1 pound orzo, cooked according to package directions and drained
- 3 tablespoons olive oil for pan + more for finished dish, as desired
- 1 medium sweet Vidalia onion, diced small
- 1 medium zucchini, diced into half moons
- one 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (I use low salt)
- 2+ teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1+ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 to 4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
- 5 ounces fresh spinach (about 4 giant handfuls)
- 1/2 English cucumber, diced into small half moons
- 1 pound sliced cherry or grape tomatoes, or to taste
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup cup fresh basil loosely measured, chiffonade (in ribbons); or to taste
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
- 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- To a large pot, add the orzo and cook according to package directions. Drain and return to pot or very large bowl; set aside.
- While orzo is cooking, to a large skillet add 3 tablespoons olive oil, onions, and cook for about 3 minutes; stir intermittently.
- Add the zucchini, garbanzo beans, season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper pepper, Italian seasoning, oregano, and cook for about 3 more minutes, or until zucchini is slightly softened; stir frequently to ensure even cooking.
- Add the garlic, stir to combine, and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
- Transfer the onion and zucchini mixture to the large pot with the drained orzo.
- Add the spinach (looks like a lot but it will wilt) and stir to incorporate. Stir for about 2 minutes, or until it begins to wilt from the carryover heat.
- Add the cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and stir well to incorporate.
- Add the feta and stir to combine. Tip – If you want the feta to remain more intact, don’t add it until the orzo has cooled down a bit, or it will melt, which is totally fine, you just won’t see the white crumbles.
- Taste, and as desired, add additional salt and pepper. I added an additional approximately 2 additional teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper because it’s a very large quantity of food.
- If desired, drizzle in additional olive oil. I added another approximately 2 tablespoons for flavor and so that the orzo doesn’t stick as it cools. Serve immediately. Recipe can be served warm, at room temp, or chilled. Extra will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days and I froze the leftovers, noting that the texture of the vegetables does change upon thawing and they're softer but the flavor remains very good.
Adapted from Greek Lemon Chicken and Orzo
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 304Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 565mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 6gSugar: 12gProtein: 11g
Greek Lemon Chicken and Orzo – EASY, ready in 25 minutes, and feeds a crowd!! Juicy lemon chicken with orzo, fresh spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes make this a dinnertime WINNER! Great for parties, picnics, and potlucks!!
Lemon Basil Orzo and Vegetables – An EASY vegan recipe ready in 30 minutes that makes it easy to eat your veggies while enjoying the comforts of pasta, too!! The lemon and basil make the dish taste fresh and light!!
Chicken Orzo Salad – Juicy chicken tossed with orzo, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and a super flavorful lemon vinaigrette!! Easy, healthy, ready in 30 minutes, and a perfect way to use your garden fresh veggies!!
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Tabbouleh – Never had it? Think couscous or quinoa mixed with vegetables, herbs, lemon and olive oil! Easy, no cooking required, healthy, and packed with so much flavor!
Loaded Greek Salad – An amped up version of a classic Greek salad with avocado, artichokes, garbanzo beans, and more!! The tangy Greek salad dressing is ready in seconds and is a major flavor booster! Naturally gluten-free and vegetarian!!
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