This herby orzo salad is a crowd favorite and full of Greek flavors, bursting with fresh dill and mint, feta cheese, and tangy lemon.
This post was created in partnership with Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove; all opinions are our own.
“What’s the best way to eat healthy, delicious food?” While there’s no black-and-white answer to this question, Alex and I like to say this. GROW HERBS. Sounds a little round-about, right? Why would growing herbs make you eat healthier?
Here’s what we think: caring for herbs requires slowing down. You’re forced to embrace the season and get your hands dirty, something easily avoided in the glow of a smartphone screen. And when you add herbs to your cooking, they take a dish from ordinary to incredible without adding calories. Herbs say this dish is special. Herbs add flavor, nuance, satisfaction. So while it may not look like it, this Greek orzo salad is everything about our philosophy on cooking, health, life and community, all wrapped up into one dish. It’s all about living deliciously. Keep reading for more about what this means, cooking with herbs, and this herbaceous orzo salad!
How to live deliciously
Our friends at Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove asked Alex and I how we live deliciously, so we created this Greek orzo salad to show you just that. They’re premium brands of refrigeration, cooking, and dishwashing appliances (you may remember we visited their HQ a few years ago in Madison). Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove are not only passionate about making the highest quality kitchen appliances, but spreading a philosophy that extends beyond the kitchen. They’re all about setting down our phones, picking up our forks, and relishing every succulent, savory, sweet taste of the good life.
Cooking with herbs
So what does this actually look like, in real life? To us, it’s this orzo salad recipe, full of fresh dill and mint from our herb garden. Alex and I have grown a garden for about 10 years, and we’ve made a zillion mistakes along the way. But to us, it is infinitely worth it to have delicious fresh herbs to cook with. And it helps us to feel rooted in a way that’s indescribable. Cooking from our garden is our deepest honor. Sharing those little plants we’ve been tending to all season with friends and family on our patio, well, there’s nothing like it.
Here are a few tips and tricks for getting your own herbs set up: in a garden or in pots! Then you can make recipes like this orzo salad recipe in a breeze (it’s so much easier and more fun than buying them packaged in the store).
Set up your growing space: a garden or pots.
This year, we created raised bed gardens using cinder blocks, a cheap and easy way to create a garden. Alex created a rectangular plot and outlined it with cinder blocks, then filled it with a mix of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. Using this instead of the native soil helps the herbs to flourish. Don’t have a yard? Don’t worry! You can grow herbs either in a garden space or in pots on a sunny ledge. See these posts for more: How to Grow Herbs | How to Grow Basil | How to Harvest Basil | How to Store Fresh Basil.
To top it off, we glued 8 x 8″ decorative tiles to the top of our cinder blocks to make it look more finished. The tiles are from our local home and garden store: and they were the perfect dimensions to fit over the cinder blocks. It gives a nice finished look!
As you can see, our two-year-old Larson absolutely LOVES the garden. We’re out there almost every day watering and digging. So it doubles as a teaching tool, too!
Buy your herbs from starts.
While it can be tempting to want to grow herbs from seeds, we’ve found that for most it’s easiest to grow from starts because it results in the hardiest plants. Where to buy herb plants? We get our herb starts at our local farmers market, but you can also buy them from home and garden stores. Once you’ve brought them home, plant them in full sun. Make sure to keep them watered regularly. If you plant basil, make sure to regularly pinch off the tops of the stems to keep it from going to seed: this will create new branches of the bush in its place.
Where to start? Here are some of our favorites (which you’ll see reflected in our orzo salad recipe): Basil, Dill, Mint, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Chives, Sage
Get cooking with herbs!
Once you’ve got a thriving garden of herbs, here’s the fun part: cooking with them! There are so many amazing ways to add herbs to recipes. Here are some of our favorite ways to cook with herbs, with enough recipes for a major dinner party!
- Salad: This Greek Orzo Salad (below) shows that herbs make a salad infinitely more delicious! Adding dill and mint gives big flavor to the orzo and veggies. Or try something like this Peach & Burrata Caprese Salad.
- Sauce: These Greek Portobello Burgers use an herb-loaded yogurt dill sauce for spreading herbaceous goodness over the entire sandwich. Or try our Baked Salmon with Chimichurri with an herby green sauce.
- Soup: This Italian Vegetable Gnocchi Soup shows that fresh basil adds big flavor to soup broth! If it’s warm weather, try Watermelon Gazpacho.
- Pizza: What’s better than fresh herbs on pizza? This Best Margherita Pizza shows the power of peppery basil to make it soar.
- Dessert: Herbs aren’t just for mains. This Classic Strawberry Shortcake with Mint and Basil Strawberry Popsicles show the power of herby sweets.
How to make orzo salad
And now: how to make this Greek orzo salad recipe! First of all: what is orzo? Though it looks a little like rice, orzo is actually a small pasta in the shape of rice! It’s often used in Mediterranean-style recipes like Italian and Greek cuisine. Here, we’ve harnessed all the flavors of Greece for this orzo salad: salty feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and of course, powerhouse herbs like mint and dill!
How to make orzo salad:
- Boil the orzo. Orzo usually takes around 7 to 8 minutes to boil: cook it according to the package instructions, but start tasting for al dente a few minutes before the package specifies. Al dente means tender but with an inner firmness.
- Season the chickpeas. To add big flavor to the chickpeas, toss them in a bowl with lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and let them sit while preparing the salad.
- Chop the vegetables. Chop up the cucumber, roasted red pepper, red onion, and herbs.
- Mix it all together. Then mix together all the veggies and herbs with olive oil, white wine vinegar, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives.
Are you ready? Let’s get cooking!
This orzo salad recipe is…
Vegetarian. For gluten-free, look for gluten-free orzo.Print
This herby orzo salad is a crowd favorite, bursting with Greek flavors from fresh dill and mint, to feta cheese and tangy lemon.
- 8 ounces orzo pasta (1 1/4 cup dry)
- 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 lemon, juice and zest (about 2 tablespoons juice)
- 1/4 cup minced shallot or red onion
- 1/2 English cucumber (2 cups diced, or substitute a peeled standard cucumber)
- 2 roasted red peppers from a jar or 1/2 fresh red bell pepper (1/2 cup diced)
- 1/3 cup chopped dill, plus more for garnish
- 1/3 cup chopped mint
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
- 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, halved
- Black pepper
- Prepare the orzo according to the package instructions. Taste the orzo a few minutes before completion to ensure it’s ‘al dente’ (chewy, but with a little firmness in the center). When it’s done, drain it and then rinse it under cold water until it comes to room temperature.
- Place the chickpeas in a bowl with the lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.
- Mince the red onion, then place it in a bowl with water (this helps to remove the sharp onion taste). Dice the cucumber. Dice the roasted red pepper. Chop the herbs.
- Stir together the orzo, chickpeas and bowl of lemon juice, red onion, cucumber, red pepper, dill, mint, white wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, oregano, feta crumbles, black olives, and several grinds of black pepper. Taste and if necessary, season with more kosher salt.
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Greek
Keywords: Orzo salad, Orzo salad recipe, Greek orzo salad,
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.