Dairy Free/ Salads/ Vegetarian & Vegan

Spinach Orzo Pasta Salad

The perfect side dish for any picnic, cookout or potluck, this spinach orzo pasta salad is easy to make and full of fresh and bold flavors.
Overhead shot of orzo salad in a bowl topped with roasted tomatoes

Last Updated on September 10, 2020 by Betty Davies

This easy and delicious spinach orzo pasta salad is dressed in a lemon and basil olive oil and served with roasted cherry tomatoes. Easy to make with simple ingredients, it’s the perfect make ahead side dish and easy to make into a main meal.

A bowl of orzo pasta salad on a chopping board

You are going to love this no mayo pasta salad! Made with orzo pasta, fresh spinach and a tangy and herby olive oil dressing, it’s super easy and is a wonderful accompaniment to so many mains.

It’s a great side to take to picnics, BBQs and potlucks and is dairy-free and vegan friendly.

Why you will love this pasta salad!

  • Quick: It takes around 30 minutes to make this salad, and most of that time is totally hands off.
  • Great for a crowd: This is a perfect pasta salad if you are serving it at a picnic or potluck. This recipe makes enough for 8 to 10 people and is easily halved and doubled.
  • Fresh: The flavors of basil and lemon make this a great fresh tasting side and the roasted tomatoes burst with flavor.

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes: I used tomatoes on the vine that I roasted for a great burst of flavor and their acidity cuts through the pasta and basil. You can use cherry tomatoes not on the vine too.
  • Oil: Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. It has a more intense flavor compared to olive oil, but you can use that if you are in a pinch.
  • Basil leaves: Use fresh basil leaves to create a fresh and vibrant dish.
  • Sugar: Sugar helps to balance out the slight bitterness from the basil.
  • Lemon juice: Use fresh lemon juice rather than bottled. It’s much more zingier.
  • Salt and pepper: Added to taste.
  • Pasta: I made this with orzo pasta which really helps to soak up all of those flavors.
  • Spinach: Use fresh baby spinach leaves that are soft and tender.
Roasted tomatoes on a bed of spinach orzo salad

How to make spinach orzo pasta

Be sure to scroll down for the full recipe!

  • Roast the tomatoes (photo 1).
  • Blend together the ingredients for the basil oil (photo 2).
  • Cook and drain the pasta.
  • Stir the spinach into the warm pasta, pour over the dressing and taste to season (photo 3).
Photos to show roasted tomatoes, how to make the basil oil and the salad combined

Recipe Variations

This spinach orzo salad is pretty great as is, but there are some variations you can easily make to suit your tastes.

  • Make it into a meal by adding shredded chicken or other protein.
  • Add in some other vegetables like zucchini or green beans.
  • Try it with another pasta, like penne or macaroni.
  • Mix up the herbs. You can swap the basil for parsley, cilantro, dill or any other favorite herb.
  • Swap the blended basil leaves for some lemon basil pesto.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is orzo?

Orzo is a short -cut pasta made from white flour. Originating from Italy, it is commonly found in soups and salads. Also called Risoni, it’s found in the pasta aisle and is widely available.

How long does it keep?

Because there is no mayo in this pasta salad it will keep for up to a week. Let it cool to room temperature and then keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. There’s also no hurry to refrigerate it as it has an oil based dressing.

Can you eat this salad warm or cold?

I would suggest that you let this dish sit for about 30 minutes after you’ve made it. It can be served at room temperature or chilled.

Serving Suggestions

This spinach orzo pasta salad is great to serve up with all your grilling favorites like burgers, BBQ chicken and steaks. Serve it alongside your other cookout favorites like corn on the cob and fresh salads and coleslaws. It can easily be turned into a main or a fresh lunch.

ozro salad on a spoon

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Don’t overcook the orzo. Orzo has a quick cooking time, around 8 minutes, and as with all pastas it should be cooked al dente.
  • Stir in the spinach while the pasta is still hot. The heat will cause the spinach to wilt and become tender.
  • Taste for seasoning before serving and adjust if needed.
  • Let the pasta sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. This will help the flavors develop and meld together.

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Overhead shot of orzo salad in a bowl topped with roasted tomatoes

Spinach Orzo Pasta Salad

The perfect side dish for any picnic, cookout or potluck, this spinach orzo pasta salad is easy to make and full of fresh and bold flavors.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 317kcal
Author: Betty Davies

Ingredients

  • 12 cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves (packed)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper added to taste
  • 2 cups orzo pasta
  • 4 ounces baby spinach leaves

Instructions

  • Pre heat the oven to 390F / 220c.
  • Place the tomatoes on a parchment lined tin, drizzle with a little oil and roast for 15 to 20 minutes until soft. Place to one side.
  • Add the oil, basil, sugar and lemon juice to a blender. Blend on high speed until well mixed.
  • Cook the orzo pasta according to package instructions; cook in salted boiling water for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • While the pasta is cooking, roughly chop the baby spinach.
  • Drain the spinach and transfer to a large bowl. Stir the spinach in straight away so that the pasta is still warm and the spinach wilts a little.
  • Pour over the basil oil and stir until combined.
  • Let sit for 30 minutes before serving with the roasted tomatoes.

Notes

  • Don’t overcook the orzo. Orzo has a quick cooking time, around 8 minutes, and as with all pastas it should be cooked al dente.
  • Stir in the spinach while the pasta is still hot. The heat will cause the spinach to wilt and become tender.
  • Taste for seasoning before serving and adjust if needed.
  • Let the pasta sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. This will help the flavors develop and meld together.

Nutrition

Calories: 317kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 17mg | Potassium: 197mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1290IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Alanna Taylor-Tobin
    August 27, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    Loving the new site Betty! This dish looks absolutely delicious. <3

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