This Greek Orzo Salad with Feta is full of traditional Greek village salad ingredients and flavours. The addition of orzo pasta turns the salad into not only a delicious side with grilled meat or fish but also as a tasty main dish too that vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will love!
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Greek Orzo Salad with Feta
I made this orzo salad for our 10th Wedding Anniversary Party and much like the Israeli Couscous Salad that I made, this one was also a hit! I guess I should have called it Greek-Cypriot orzo salad with feta since I am of Cypriot heritage hailing from the beautiful island of Cyprus! (I’ve never so much has stepped foot in Greece or any of her islands… but we’re all united by delicious Greek food, so it’s much of a muchness!)
RELATED READING: How to Prepare a Greek-Cypriot Meze for Six at Home
Ingredients used in this Recipe
A Greek salad usually contains tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, olives, and feta; with a dressing made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and herbs. You will find variations of this, including my own Cypriot Village Salad, but the basics are pretty much the same.
In this orzo pasta salad you will need:
- Vegetable stock (bouillon) cube
- Dried oregano
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Fresh mint leaves
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Red onion
- Kalamata olives
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Lemon juice
What is orzo?
In case you are wondering what on earth orzo is, let me tell you! It is a short-cut pasta, shaped like large grains of rice. It is often used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern recipes.
You’ll find orzo in the pasta aisle at the grocery store, as well as in ethnic supermarkets (where it is likely to be cheaper too) And if you really can’t find it, you can also buy orzo on Amazon.
Orzo can be served alone; as a soup accompaniment; as part of a salad, a pilaf; or baked in a casserole. My [Greek-Cypriot] dad makes an amazing orzo pilaf and I will have to share that recipe with you one day!
What is feta?
Feta is a salty, crumbly, white cheese made in Greece from sheep’s milk or a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk. It is commonly found in block form and can be used as a table cheese, as well as in salads (such as this one!), and pastries. You’ll find it in the Greek filo (phyllo) pastry dish, spanikopita (spinach pie), as well as another pastry dish – tyropita, which is a delicious cheese pie.
Enjoy feta as part of a meze with some olives, or drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs. Eat it at breakfast time with some watermelon or figs; or for lunch in a grilled sandwich or omelet.
You may see some feta like cheeses labelled as “salad cheese” and “Greek-style cheese”, this is because the term “feta” is a protected designation of origin, which limits “feta” within the European Union to mean brined cheese made exclusively of sheep’s or sheep’s and goat’s milk in the following regions of Greece: Peloponnese, Central Greece, Epirus, Thessaly, Macedonia, Thrace, and the islands of Lesvos and Cephalonia.
Equipment used in this recipe
You don’t need any fancy kitchen gadgets to make this Greek-Cypriot orzo salad – just a chopping board, sharp knife and a bowl to serve it in.
You can make it in a mixing bowl first, and then transfer it to a pretty serving bowl if you like.
You’ll also need a small bowl (or a jug) to make the dressing – a small whisk would be handy, but a fork would do the same job.
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How do I make Greek Orzo Salad?
The first thing you will need to do is to cook the orzo. This is very easy – just place in a pan of boiling water, and add a crumbled up vegetable stock cube (bouillon) – this is optional, but I always add one, for a little bit of extra flavor. Follow the package directions for the cooking time.
Once cooked, drain and drizzle the still warm orzo with a little olive oil and lemon juice, and a sprinkling of dried oregano.
You can speed up the cooling process by spreading the orzo out on to a baking tray; or if you are really pressed for time, run it under cold water, but skip the oil, lemon, and oregano part – just add it all in at the end.
Prepare Salad Vegetables
While the orzo is cooling down, chop up the salad vegetables.
Roughly chop the flat-leaf parsley leaves, and finely chop the stalks. Finely chop the mint leaves, and thinly slice the red onion.
Cut the tomatoes in half or quarters, depending on their size. I used cherry plum tomatoes (in the US they’re called grape tomatoes) in several colours which adds variety.
Use whatever tomatoes you can buy at the grocery store – if it’s cherry tomatoes, that’s fine, if it’s regular-sized tomatoes, also fine. Even big beef tomatoes can be used – just make sure that the tomatoes are cut into bite-size pieces.
You’ll see in my photo below that I cut some in half lengthways, and some the other way – again, variety!
Cut the cucumber into bite size pieces too. This is how I do it: I cut the cucumber in half lengthways, then cut each half into four sticks by cutting lengthways down the middle, then down the middle again of those two pieces. I finally chop each of those sticks down into small pieces. I do hope that makes sense! Although, I am hoping you know how to cut a cucumber!
Cut the olives in half, and cut the feta into bite size cubes.
I prepped this salad on the morning of our party, and just plain forgot to add in the olives! I heard your gasps of horror, I know, I know… a Greek salad without olives?! I only realised when I came to take photos of my plate of salad!
Make Salad Dressing
In a small bowl (or a measuring jug), whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and salt (optional) to make the dressing. I’ve said optional on the salt, as you may find there is enough saltiness from the stock cubes, and the feta cheese.
And now it’s time to bring the salad together:
Place the cooked and cooled orzo, chopped herbs, and salad vegetables, olives, feta, and salad dressing into a large bowl and mix to combine.
If serving immediately, transfer to a serving bowl. If serving later, pop a lid on your mixing bowl (or transfer to a container that has a lid) and place in the refrigerator.
When ready to serve, give the salad another mix to distribute the ingredients again. You might find it needs another drop of lemon or oil, so give it a quick taste test!
If you are making this salad for a party, it can be prepared a day or two in advance and kept in the fridge (as above). It also keeps for a few days after too – it’s one of those salads that gets better after a day or two. We were eating this salad for 5 days (because: party leftovers!) as I keep food in airtight containers, and it helps food last longer.
This salad is also great to make in advance as part of your meal prepping for the week ahead. Take to school, college, work, or have ready in jars in the fridge if you are home-based.
Salad Storage & Serving Containers on Amazon
This Greek Orzo Salad with Feta is full of traditional Greek village salad ingredients and flavours. It is a delicious side or main dish that everyone will love! #Salad #GreekRecipes
Make It A Meal!
I said this Greek orzo salad would make a great side or main dish, so here are some more recipes that you can make, to turn this dish into a full meal.
- Appetizer: Hummus or Tahini Dip (cut a few crudités when you’re preparing the orzo salad)
- Main Dish: Afelia is a Greek pork dish that has been marinated with red wine and coriander seeds.
- Beverage: Spiked Fresh Watermelon Cocktail: Watermelon Breeze (mocktail version included)
- Dessert: Paris on Ice – a Greek-Cypriot gelatin dessert.
There are 500+ Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog for you to enjoy! Please feel free to check them out too.
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More Recipes Using Orzo
I love orzo, and you’ll find several other recipes using this ingredient on my blog. Here are a few for you to check out:
More Greek-Cypriot Recipes
Want more Greek and Greek-Cypriot recipes? Here are some of my favourites for you to take a look at:
- Pilafi Pourgouri is a delicious vegetarian dish made with crushed bulgar wheat, tomatoes, onions and garlic.
- Dolmades are vine (grape) leaves stuffed with a meat and rice mixture (and one of my favourites!)
- Manitaria Krasata or mushrooms in wine for the English translation. A yummy side dish.
Know someone who would love to make this orzo salad with feta? Why not forward it onto them by email or WhatsApp?
- 2½ Cups/350g Orzo
- 1-2 Vegetable stock cubes/bouillon cubes (optional)
- 4-5 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2-3 Tbsp Lemon juice, divided
- 1 Tbsp Dried oregano, divided
- 2oz/60g Fresh flat leaf parsley
- 10 Fresh mint leaves
- 1½ Cups/250g Cherry plum/grape/cherry tomatoes
- Small red onion (about ½ Cup/100g)
- ½ Cucumber (about 1 cup/150g)
- ½ Cup/60g pitted Kalamata olives
- 7oz/200g Feta
- Salt (optional)
- Cook orzo according to package instructions. Crumble in vegetable stock/bouillon cube for added flavor if using.
- Drain and stir in 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and lemon juice into orzo. Sprinkle in half the dried oregano. Leave to cool.
- Roughly chop the parsley leaves, and finely chop the stems. Finely chop the mint leaves. Place in a large mixing bowl.
- Cut tomatoes in half/quarters depending on size. Cut red onion in half and thinly slice. Cut cucumber into bite size pieces. Add all to bowl.
- Cut olives in half. Cut feta into small cubes. Add both to bowl.
- Add cooked and cooled orzo to bowl of prepared fresh herbs and vegetables.
- Place remaining olive oil, lemon juice, dried oregano, and salt if using in a small bowl and whisk to make dressing.
- Add dressing to salad and mix everything to combine.
- Serve immediately, or place in an airtight container and refrigerate. You may find the salad needs a splash of olive oil and/or lemon juice - add according to taste and your judgement!
- Salad can be prepped a day or two in advance and stored as above. And lasts for around 5 days total in refrigerator.
- The measurements I've given are more-or-less - so if you use a little more, or a little less, it's not going to be a big deal. I just about measure stuff when I make a salad like this - I toss the stuff in until it tastes good!
- The amount of servings this makes will depend on how you use the salad (main, side, etc) I made it for a party with 25 people - but I know not everyone ate it! I have guessed it would serve about 12 people on a buffet/party food table with other dishes.
- You can speed up the cooling process by spreading the orzo out on to a baking try; or if you are really pressed for time, run it under cold water, but skip the oil, lemon, dried oregano part - just add it all in at the end.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 189 Total Fat: 11g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 15mg Sodium: 306mg Carbohydrates: 18g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 3g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 6g
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