A simple orzo salad with tasty colorful summer produce of zucchini and tomatoes, tossed with olives and feta cheese. Delicious and healthy!

Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Olives and Feta

Happy July 4th! Of course, this blog post is pre-recorded, so you’re probably reading this on July 6th, (or August 23rd if you’ve just got around to cleaning out your spam folder. Not judging!), but as we write this, it is a wonderfully sunny and warm July 4th, and we’re all sitting in the garden, grilling burgers and drinking beers – the sound of laughter and ball games percolates across the neighborhood, fireworks are starting down by the Hudson River and … Okay, I can’t keep this up, it’s pissing down, it’s been storming heavily for two days straight, the garden is basically flooded, and the only people enjoying a ball game are the German World Cup team. We’re sitting in our living room eating dry crackers and watching a Star Trek: Next Generation marathon (in between World Cup matches, of course). We downloaded a firework app on our iPad. Wheeeee. Look, that one’s in the shape of a hot dog. Happy now? Are you? Are you happy? *Sobs*

Tomorrow (yesterday for you) will be (was) sunny and warm, so fireworks, grilling, drinking and general merriment has been postponed a day. But here’s the thing. Some dishes are better prepared the day before, and left to marinade for a day. And, lucky us, this orzo salad is one of them.
Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Olives and Feta

So, as you probably know, orzo is simply a rice-shaped pasta. I’ve used a whole wheat version here but regular orzo works just as well. In fact, I’ve made this same salad using farro, cous cous, and quinoa, all with great results (though orzo is my favorite).
The lovely thing about this, other than the fact that you can make orzo salad in advance, is that it’s extremely versatile. I love this combination of ingredients but you could just as easily use peppers (raw or cooked), blanched broccoli, grilled corn. Really, it’s hard to go wrong. It’s also an extremely pretty salad, with a great variety of colors and textures.
Nerd Tips:
  • Don’t fret if you don’t have pickled ramps. They are delicious, but not essential to the recipe.
  • The dressing should be slightly more acidic than one you would use on a green salad.
  • Add the nuts just before you serve or they’ll get soggy.

Orzo Salad with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Olives and Feta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces orzo (regular or whole-wheat)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups crumbled feta cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 2 cups zucchini, sliced in half moons
  • ¾ cup peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup pickled ramp bulbs, sliced (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. In small bowl, combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and mustard. Gradually whisk in 6 tablespoons olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a skillet on medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook zucchini until tender all the way through and golden brown. Remove to a plate and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. In the boiling water, cook frozen peas for 3 to 4 minutes, or fresh peas for 1 to 2 minutes (to taste). Scoop them out (don't pour out the water) and run cold water over them for a few seconds. Set aside. Leave pot boiling, then cook orzo until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Let it sit for a minute to drain well and then transfer to large bowl. Toss with the dressing.
  5. Add crumbled feta cheese, zucchini, peas, olives, scallions, tomatoes, ramps and capers. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  6. Garnish salad with almonds and serve.