Mediterranean Risoni Salad (aka Orzo Pasta Salad) has the flavors of lemon, dill and feta. Quick and easy, this salad is wonderful as a side dish or as a light lunch or dinner with the addiction of your favorite protein.
This post may contain affiliate links which I earn a small portion in sales if a purchase is made. Rest assured though, it is never at any additional cost to you.
One of my favorite things to bring to potlucks/BBQ’s are pasta salads.
Honestly, I love making them because I love eating them and they hold up well with being made ahead of time and then traveling.
Additionally, they are always a hit with friends and family.
It rare to not see people go back for seconds and sometimes thirds with my Springtime Pasta Salad and my family barely lets me finish making my Bacon Tortellini Pasta Salad before they are attacking it with forks.
Equally important though, pasta salads like this Risoni Salad, are an incredibly easy way to feed family especially during busy seasons of life when everyone’s schedule is different. Make the salad up ahead of time and it’s available to eat by just simply serving .
What Is Risoni Pasta?
Risoni pasta, also know as orzo or pastina (small pasta), feels like it falls somewhere between a rice and pasta. It is small, delicate and wonderful for all kinds of recipes like soup, salads and main dishes. Additionally, it is wonderful to keep on hand for quick 30 min meals.
Why Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet isn’t an actual diet per say, but rather and eating approach. The benefits of a Mediterranean diet range from heart health, protection from disease and possible protection from developing type 2 diabetes. Here are some of the basic rules of eating a Mediterranean diet and how this salad falls within this approach.
- Eat plenty of fruit and veggies. This orzo salad has a good amount of non starchy veggies.
- Use whole grains and eat more beans, nut and higher fiber foods. This version of orzo fulfills this plus is gluten-free.
- Utilize healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil.
- Eat more seafood and less red meat. Add in a can of wild caught salmon to help achieve this.
- Add in more herbs and spices. My favorite all-time herb.
Best Tips for Making Risoni Salad
- To help keep the veggies crisp, it is best to add the orzo just to the vinaigrette and then refrigerate. Cooling the orzo will help to prevent the veggies from becoming heat damaged.
- Let the orzo cool for about 20 mins in the refrigerator, making sure to stir every so often. Cut the veggies while the orzo cools.
- Treat the orzo like a pasta by cooking in plenty of heavily salted water and do not rinse.
- The addition of these green olives takes this salad to over the top delicious.
Additional Mediterranean Flavors
Here is a secret, pasta salads are extremely versatile and very forgiving. Basically if there is an ingredient you don’t like, simply change it for something you do. Additional Mediterranean flavors and ingredients that can be added or exchanged very simply are finally chopped Italian parsley, capers, Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, oregano, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and white beans such as cannellini.
How Long Does Orzo Salad Last?
Because the veggies will start to loose their crispness due to the salt from this recipe, it is best to use the salad within two days. It will last up to 5 days, however it will just not taste as fresh.
What Goes With This Mediterranean Risoni Salad
Mediterranean Risoni Salad (Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup lemon juice *about 2 juicy lemons
- 5-6 cloves garlic *crushed
- 2 tsp dried dill
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 16 oz orzo pasta
- 1/2 med red onion *diced, about 3/4 cup
- 2 small English cucumbers *diced, (or 6 small Persian cucumbers diced)
- 16 oz tear drop tomatoes *cut in half, (or cherry tomatoes)
- 1 lg yellow or orange bell pepper *diced
- 1 16 oz can green olives *cut in halves, see Best Tips for Making Risoni Salad section above
- 10 oz feta *crumbled or cubed
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling season heavily with salt and cook risoni (orzo) following instructions on the package.
- Meanwhile whisk together ingredients for vinaigrette in a large mizing bowl.
- Drain risoni and toss with vinaigrette. Place in refrigerate to cool while preparing veggies, making sure to stir risoni occasionally.
- Prepare veggies. Once risoni has cooled to room temperature, toss in veggies and let chill in refrigerator before serving (about 1 hour).