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:
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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)
- 3/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped (from a jar)
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (sub shaved Parmesan)
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds (sub toasted pine nuts)
- 1 tsp. lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 1/4 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.