Lemon-Dill Orzo Pasta Salad with Cucumbers, Olives & Feta

Lemon-Dill Orzo Pasta Salad with Feta & Olives

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I feel my most complete when there’s a giant bowl of salad in the fridge.  Whether it’s used as a quick lunch, late morning pick-me-up, dinner side dish, or 2 am snack, I find all sorts of comfort in knowing there’s something tasty and relatively nutritious that’s ready and waiting.

My latest big-batch anytime meal is an orzo pasta salad loaded with cucumbers, black olives, and feta.  Dressed in a light ‘n bright lemon-dill vinaigrette, it’s packed with flavor without being heavy.  It’s perfect on its own or perfectly heavenly served with  grilled salmon.  Delicious eaten at a table with a napkin on your lap or scarfed off of the serving spoon standing over the kitchen sink.  In the backyard.  At a picnic.  Potluck.  Poolside.  Roadside.  You get the idea–it’s good.

Orzo Pasta Salad Ingredients

So, let’s do it.  Let’s make the next couple of meals really easy.  Let’s make a big pasta salad and we’ll be on easy street for days.

Drop a pound of orzo into boiling water and whisk up a lemon-dill vinaigrette while it cooks.

Lemon-Dill VinaigretteWhen the pasta is ready, drain it well and toss it with the vinaigrette while it’s still hot so it’ll really soak up the flavor.  Whatever you do, do not try to expedite the process by running cold water over the pasta to cool it down.  I know you’re just trying to save time, but you’ll end up with the kind of watered-down bland pasta salad that makes people think they hate pasta salad.  Let the pasta come down to room temperature on its own schedule, then stir in sliced cucumbers and Kalamata olives.

Cucumber Orzo Pasta SaladCrumble feta cheese over the top and you’re done.  Wam, bam!  You are officially whole and officially on easy street when it comes to cooking for the next couple of days.

Lemon & Dill Orzo Pasta Salad

Lemon-Dill Orzo Pasta Salad with Cucumbers, Olives & Feta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Pair the pasta salad with a simple piece of grilled salmon for an easy and satisfying dinner.
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Serves: 8
  • 1 # Orzo Pasta
  • zest of 1 Lemon
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 medium Shallot, grated
  • 5 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Tbsp. Fresh Dill, chopped
  • 1 c. Kalamata Olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2 medium Cucumbers, mostly peeled, cut in half, seeded and sliced
  • 6 oz. Feta, crumbled
  1. Cook the orzo in abundant salted water according to package instructions or to your taste. Drain and transfer to a large salad bowl.
  2. Meanwhile make lemon-dill vinaigrette to dress the salad. Combine lemon zest and juice, mustard, and grated shallot in a medium bowl. Whisk together with a few pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking then stir in the chopped dill. Taste and adjust as needed.
  3. Pour the vinaigrette over the still warm pasta and toss. Allow to cool to room temperature then add the olives and cucumbers. Scatter the crumbled feta cheese over the top and serve.
The best advice I can give about making pasta salad is to dress your pasta while it is still warm so it better absorbs the flavor of your homemade dressing. Do not make the mistake of running your pasta under cold water before dressing it--the dressing won't stick to the pasta as well and the whole thing will taste bland and watered down. One more tip--pasta salad is better at room temperature than straight from the fridge.



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