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White bowl filled with Greek Orzo Pasta; Lemon-Basil Tahini Dressing is in a glass pitcher on the side

Greek Lemon Orzo Salad

This refreshing salad features tender orzo pasta, a rainbow of fresh vegetables, and a zesty dressing made with tahini, lemon juice and fragrant basil. Not only is it a delicious and satisfying dish, it’s also loaded with nutritious ingredients to help you feel your best. Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy lunch or a flavorful side to serve with your favorite main course, this orzo pasta Greek salad is the perfect choice.

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Refrigeration time for dressing: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 8 mins
  • Total Time: 48 minutes
  • Yield: 6 side servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Ingredients

Scale

Lemon-Basil Tahini Dressing

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon honey, or more to taste (see Note)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon balsamic vinegar (can substitute white balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup water – add as needed to thin (see directions)

Greek Orzo Salad

  • 5 ounces dry orzo pasta
  • 1 tablespoon lemon extra virgin olive oil (or regular EVOO)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts in water, drained
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh or smoked Mozzarella cheese (can substitute feta cheese crumbles)
  • 1/2 cup halved pitted ripe olives, preferably Kalamata
  • 1/2 cup seeded and chopped green bell pepper (around 1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (quartered if large)
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley, for garnish

Instructions

Lemon-Basil Tahini Dressing

  1. Place the tahini and lemon juice in the bowl of a small food processor. Process until smooth.
  2. Add the olive oil, basil, garlic, 1 tablespoon honey, mustard, vinegar, zest and salt; process until smooth and mixture resembles mayonnaise.
  3. If needed (depends on thickness of tahini used), slowly add water, a tablespoon at a time, to thin the dressing ( usually use 3 to 4 tablespoons).
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
  5. Bring to room temperature, taste, and adjust seasonings (ground pepper, honey and/or salt) as needed.

Greek Orzo Salad

  1. Cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain rinse and place in a large mixing bowl. Toss with olive oil. Set aside to cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking together.
  2. Place the artichoke hearts on a double layer of paper towels. Gently pat dry with a third towel. Cut into quarters.
  3. When the pasta is cooled, stir in a few tablespoons of the Tahini Dressing. Stir in cheese, olives, tomatoes, peppers and shallots. Add the artichoke hearts and remaining dressing. Toss gently to mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve in a large bowl or platter at room temperature. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves. For a pretty presentation, line the bowl/platter with lettuce leaves.

Notes

Note on honey: I have found that the bitterness of tahini varies significantly by brand – from not bitter at all, to very bitter. As a result, when preparing the dressing you really need to taste and add more honey as needed.

Make ahead: Lemon-Basil Tahini Dressing can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using. It will thicken as it sits, so you’ll want to thin it by whisking in a tablespoon of water. Pasta can be cooked up to 24 hours in advance, placed in a zip top baggie and refrigerated.

  • Author: Lee Clayton Roper
  • Category: side salads, pasta salads, easy entertaining, vegetarian
  • Method: no bake
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 368
  • Sugar: 5.8 g
  • Sodium: 385.5 mg
  • Fat: 23.4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 31.7 g
  • Fiber: 4.7 g
  • Protein: 11 g
  • Cholesterol: 2.5 mg