This easy Lemon Orzo Salad is filled with artichokes, feta, and almonds, and comes together in under 30 minutes. Enjoy as a vegetarian lunch, or pair with white fish for a light and bright spring dinner.
Why You'll Love this Lemon Orzo Salad
With warmer weather on the horizon, I'm craving all the bright flavors and spring-centric produce. This lemon orzo salad hits all the marks for a nutritious, speedy spring salad. It's hearty enough to enjoy on its own, yet versatile enough to pair with just any protein: white fish, shrimp, chicken, or white beans.
Orzo may look similar to rice, however it’s actually a type of short-cut pasta. Because of its petite size, orzo cooks in lightning speed, which makes it a great alternative to rice for a fast weeknight dinner.
Additionally, this type of grain seems to be a universal favorite among adults and kiddos. Orzo is lower in fiber and certain B vitamins than brown rice, however if you can find whole-grain orzo, it will help even out the playing field. I love the way the orzo noodles cook to an almost creamy, risotto-like texture.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions:
- Orzo: You can find regular and whole-wheat orzo in the pasta aisle. Just like any other pasta shape, dry orzo will keep for a WHILE in the pantry, so don't worry about it going to waste.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic adds an aromatic backbone to the orzo. I would not swap fresh for granulated in this case, because this salad really leans on the fresh garlicky punch.
- Lemon: You need 1 tsp. of lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice, which you can get from 1 whole lemon. The zest adds brightness and pure lemon essence, while the juice lends acidity and tartness.
- Artichokes: You need 1 cup of marinated artichoke hearts, which you'll most often find in a jar. If you can find quartered artichokes, even better, however if not, just give them a rough chop. I also like using some of the seasoned oil in the jar to drizzle over the finished salad.
- Feta: Feta adds salty, tangy goodness to the salad. Alternatively, you can use Parmesan cheese, which is also a lovely compliment to the lemon and garlic.
- Almonds: I love using toasted sliced almonds for nuttiness and crunch. Alternatively, toasted pine nuts or walnuts are also great options.
Step 1: Sauté Garlic
In a medium saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp. of butter over medium heat. Once melted, add garlic and cook 1 minute, until fragrant.
Step 2: Toast Orzo
Stir in orzo and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is lightly toasted and golden.
Step 3: Cook Orzo
Add broth, and increase heat to bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to medium-low, cover, and gently simmer for 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.
Step 4: Mix in all Salad Ingredients
Remove pan from heat and stir in artichokes, feta, almonds, parsley (or basil), lemon zest and juice, and black pepper. Taste and add a pinch of salt, if needed. Serve warm, chilled, or closer to room temperature.
What to Serve with Orzo Salad:
While this salad is hearty enough to enjoy on its own, here are a few of my favorite pairings:
- Fish or Shrimp: A mild white fish, such as halibut or grouper, offer a delicate, buttery flavor that pairs perfectly with this salad. Sautéed shrimp or scallops are also great options.
- Chicken: Roasted chicken, grilled chicken breast, or shredded rotisserie chicken are great lean protein options.
- White beans: For a vegetarian option, stir in small white beans (navy beans) or chickpeas for a punch of plant-based protein.
Make-Ahead and Storage Tips:
- Make-Ahead: This lemon orzo salad can be made up to 1 day ahead. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and stir in 1 to 2 Tbsp. olive oil prior to serving.
- Store: This salad will last up to 4 days refrigerated, however it will dry out slightly. I like to stir in olive oil or some of the oil from the marinated artichokes jar prior to serving. You can enjoy it warmed, chilled, or closer to room temperature.
- Reheat: If you prefer this salad warm, just nook it in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds.
More Orzo Recipes to Try:
One Pan Creamed Corn with Shrimp
Lemon Pepper Shrimp and Orzo
One Pot Harissa Shrimp and Feta Orzo
If you give this recipe a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review! Lastly, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates.
Easy Lemon Artichoke Orzo Salad
- Small or medium saucepan with lid
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
- 1 cup dry orzo pasta
- 2 cups lower-sodium vegetable broth (sub chicken broth)
- ¾ cup marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped (from a jar)
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese (sub shaved Parmesan)
- ¼ cup sliced almonds (sub toasted pine nuts)
- 1 tsp. lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- ¼ tsp. cracked black pepper
- 2-3 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley or basil leaves
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, add garlic and cook 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in orzo and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the grains are lightly toasted and golden.
- Add broth; increase heat to bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to medium-low, cover, and gently simmer for 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in artichokes, feta, almonds, lemon zest and juice, black pepper, and fresh parsley (or basil). Taste and add a pinch of salt, if needed. Serve warm, chilled, or closer to room temperature.*If making ahead, reserve 1 to 2 Tbsp. oil from the jar of marinated artichokes to stir in right before serving to help loosen up the grains.
Love the bright flavors of this one! We served with roasted chicken and it was a lovely meal!
I'm so glad you enjoyed it!! Thank you for leaving a review!
This dish was so good! I added some chopped spinach for some more nutrients as the orzo was just about done cooking. It was so easy to make and very flavorful. I would definitely double the next time for more leftovers!
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!
I loved this dish, and will definitely be making it again. The lemon makes it so refreshing, and I was not a big orzo fan prior to this one, but this turned me around! The artichoke makes it so filling and the flavors are just spot on. Looking forward to making it ahead and eating it chilled [and possibly topped with some shrimp!] in the summer.
Hi Ashlee--I'm so glad the recipe was a hit! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a rating and review!
This was so good! We used parmesan since that is what we had on hand and added in a can of navy beans. We also drizzled some of the oil from the jarred artichokes on top, which was delish. Next time we will probably double it so we have plenty of leftovers because it is just really good. Thanks for an awesome recipe!
This dish is so refreshing. It's light, easy to make and just tastes so fresh. I consumed more than I should have but don't regret a single bite. It's really good.
So glad you enjoyed this one, love!