Orzo Salad with Tomatoes and Feta is a deliciously simplistic dish. Even though the ingredients are so basic, their natural flavors permeate the dish, and there’s no need for a ton of excess seasoning. Here, orzo is tossed with cherry tomatoes, sautéed red onion, fresh herbs and feta cheese; this salad is topped with a combination of red wine vinegar and olive oil, making it light and flavorful. This dish is also great for meal prep with some protein; I typically serve it alongside grilled chicken breast for a delicious and healthy lunch.
What you’ll need to make Orzo Salad with Tomatoes and Feta
Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe:
- bouillon cube
- red onion
- cherry tomatoes
- olive oil
- red wine vinegar
- fat free feta cheese
This salad is actually so versatile that you can add any other ingredients you like. If you are a fan of cannelloni beans or chickpeas, those would both work beautifully here!
Cooking the orzo
First, let’s start with boiling the orzo. For this recipe, I measure out 8 ounces (weighed dry) of orzo in a bowl. This will be half of a pound, or half of a box’s worth of orzo.
Instead of boiling the orzo in plain water, I actually add a bouillon cube. If you don’t have a bouillon cube, you can boil the pasta in chicken or vegetable broth. Either option works great. The ultimate goal here is to just give the pasta a little bit more flavor in an easy way.
I bring a pot of water to a boil, and then dissolve the bouillon cube in the water. Next, I submerge the orzo in the water and cook it according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, you’ll have time to prep the other ingredients. This dish only takes as long as it does to cook the pasta! That’s how you know it’s an easy one. Drain the pasta once its done, and set it aside in the colander. DO NOT RINSE THE PASTA.
I see so many recipes for pasta salad that tell you to rinse the pasta after cooking; it hurts my heart!! If you rinse pasta, it takes away all of the delicious flavor and starchiness that built up during cooking. We need that flavor and starchiness for all of the other ingredients to stick to the pasta and flavor the dish. This part is SO important. I can’t stress it enough!
Prepping the other ingredients
To prep the other ingredients, first, chop up the red onion. Add it to a small frying pan with olive oil spray and a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Cook the onion for about five minutes, or until it gets tender and starts to caramelize.
Next, half your cherry tomatoes and chop your herbs. Set them aside until we are ready to use them.
How I lightened-up a vinaigrette
So, traditionally, a vinaigrette is one part acid (vinegar, citrus) to multiple parts oil. When you are trying to eat lower calorie or low fat, oil can not be easy to work with. But, really good olive oil is such a key ingredient in flavoring this pasta salad, that I couldn’t omit it.
Instead, I decided to reverse the ratio of the vinaigrette. I used one part olive oil to multiple parts vinegar, instead of the other way around. I actually found that it coats the pasta really well, and you aren’t missing any of that extra oil!
To prepare the vinaigrette, I simply placed the oil and vinegar at the bottom of a large mixing bowl, like so.
Putting the Orzo Salad with Tomatoes and Feta together
Now, since all of our components are ready, we just have to assemble the salad.
First, add the halved cherry tomatoes, cooked onions, and fresh herbs to the bowl with the vinaigrette. Look at those colors!
Next, add the cooked orzo. Stir everything together so that the dressing is incorporated fully.
Finally, fold in the fat free feta cheese. At this point, its important for you to taste the salad. Depending on how salty your feta and bouillon are, will determine how much you need to season the salad.
I personally added about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt at the end to bring out all of the flavors, and it was delicious! You can eat this salad either warm or cold. The choice is yours.
I typically serve this salad alongside some grilled chicken. It makes for a delicious meal prep as well!
- sauce pot
- frying pan
- mixing bowl
- 8 oz orzo pasta, half of a box, weighed dry
- 1 bouillon cube, chicken or vegetable flavored
- ½ red onion
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons basil, fresh
- 2 tablespoons parsley, fresh
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 oz fat free feta, I use Athenos brand
- kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Weigh out 8 oz of dry orzo in a bowl.
- Bring a pot of water to boil.
- Add the bouillon cube and allow it to dissolve.
- Add the orzo. Cook according to package directions.
- Drain the orzo once cooked, and set aside. DO NOT RINSE.
- Chop the red onion, half the cherry tomatoes, and chop the fresh herbs.
- Add the chopped red onion to a frying pan with olive oil spray and a pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
- Sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions begin to get tender and caramelize. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Combine the oil and vinegar in the bottom of a large mixing bowl.
- Add the halved cherry tomatoes, cooked onions, and chopped herbs. Add the cooked and drained orzo.
- Stir to combine, so that all ingredients are dressed by the oil and vinegar.
- Gently fold in 2 ounces of fat free feta.
- At this point, taste for seasoning. Depending on how salty your bouillon and feta are, will dictate how much seasoning to add. I added 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
- 5 WW points on all plans
- If you use whole wheat orzo, 1 point on WW Purple plan.