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20-Minute Lemon Spinach Orzo Salad

Nothing is as refreshingly delicious as a bowl of Lemon Spinach Orzo Salad during the  warmer months. Perfect for lunch at work, a light dinner, or for taking on a picnic.

lemon spinach orzo salad in a bowl with fork

Easy, Delicious Orzo Salad

The last time we drove out of state for one of our kids’ soccer tournaments, it was pouring rain with 35 mph gusty winds the entire weekend. For 2 days, we all stood shivering and drenched and cheering the best we could. I pretty much decided Hubby will go without me next time there’s a storm; no coin flipping needed.

That’s how summers can be; some days are crazy hot and other days bring in sudden cold fronts. For all the stormy days, there are the best chocolate chip cookies to be baked. Then on all those too-hot-to-cook days, this Lemon Spinach Orzo Salad is here to save dinnertime.

This Lemon Spinach Orzo salad makes the most out of sweet, vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, cool cucumbers, and irresistible orzo…

cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, orzo salad

Tips for preparing ahead

Orzo looks and even feels like rice, but it’s tiny pasta, as described in this previous article. Kids tend to love it, and it’s simple to use in everything from orzo soup to easy dinners like Lemon Basil Orzo with Chicken.

Here are our favorite make-ahead tips for serving this orzo salad at your next casual cookout:

  • Make the dressing a day or two ahead of time, and you’ll have this dish ready in no time.
  • Cherry/grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and spinach can all be washed and sliced ahead of time. For instance, if you’re serving this dish in the afternoon/evening, you can have all the parts cut and prepped that morning.
  • Orzo can be cooked to al dente, according to package instructions, and kept at room temperature a few hours prior to serving. Once cooked, immediately drain well and  toss cooked orzo generously with olive oil, to prevent sticking of the starch as it cools.
  • Entire orzo salad mixed with dressing can be fully assembled and tossed an hour or two prior to serving; keep covered and chilled. Just prior to serving, give it a gentle toss to redistribute dressing from the bottom of the bowl.
  • If adding extras, such as roasted sliced almonds or crumbled bacon, wait until ready to serve before sprinkling them on.

lemon spinach orzo salad with in a bowl

What to love about this orzo salad

This simple 20-Minute Lemon Spinach Orzo Salad has everything going for it when it comes to fast and delicious weeknight dinners:

  • It’s quick, easy, light, and satisfying.
  • You’ll feel great about serving it up as a vegetarian side dish or light main
  • Feel free to toss in slices of grilled chicken or garlicky shrimp for a meal-in-one.
  • It’s perfection at any picnic or cookout, as it can be prepared ahead of time and is easily packed and ready to go.
  • It’s flexible and easily adaptable to suit your taste buds; add crumbed bacon, switch out the cheese, or add your favorite crunchy nuts for texture.

Try our popular ONE-POT GNOCCHI DINNER:

Print

20-Minute Lemon Spinach Orzo Salad

4.7 from 9 reviews

Nothing is as refreshingly delicious as a bowl of Lemon Spinach Orzo Salad during the spring and summer months. Perfect for lunch at work, a light dinner, or for a picnic.

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 8 mins
  • Total Time: 18 mins

Yield: 8 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 5 TB fresh lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp pure honey
  • 1 tsp coarse ground or whole seed mustard
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup diced/sliced cucumber
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • Optional: 1/2 cup crumbed bacon, 1/2 cup toasted nuts (almonds or pecans work well)

Instructions

  1. In a heavy pot of well-salted water, cook orzo just until al dente. Drain and rinse; Toss with 1 TB olive oil to prevent sticking; set aside.
  2. While orzo is cooking, make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, zest, 2 TB olive oil, honey, mustard, kosher salt, pepper, garlic, and shallots (dressing can also be made ahead of time; cover and keep chilled until ready to use.)
  3. Gently toss dressing with orzo. Add remaining ingredients and gently toss to combine well. Sprinkle with bacon and/or nuts, if desired.

Notes

Dressing can be made 1-2 days ahead of time and chilled in airtight container. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 170
  • Sugar: 8.4 g
  • Sodium: 179.4 mg
  • Fat: 8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Protein: 4.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 8.3 mg
  • Author: Chew Out Loud
  • Category: side, salad
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Lemon Spinach Orzo Salad

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Did you make this?

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Recipe rating

21 comments

    • Cooking Still

    Delicious. Made as is, cutting it down for 4 people, and just left out the garlic. Contrary to what “food people” think, not everyone is a fan of garlic. Shallots are great though.

    • Walfrado

    Crisp and refreshing…having only made it once I can see already that this recipe will be in heavy rotation…just in time for summer…perfect! Thanks Amy!

    • Walfrado

    Crisp and refreshing…after having made only once I can see already that this recipe will be in heavy rotation…found it just in time for summer…perfect!

    • Tiffany Ward

    I made this along with the mahi mahi recipe, & EVERY SINGLE TIME, the recipe is requested. I highly recommend it.

      • chewoutloud

      SO happy to hear that, Tiffany!

    • Sushmita

    Wow! This is such aan easy recipe! I would love to try this

    • Everything Enchanting

    I love spinach! And this looks absolutely delicious

    • Maysz

    Wow this Lemon Spinach Orzo Salad looks easy to made and delicious I would love to try this for dinner.YUMMY!

    • Ambuj Saxena

    This looks like a perfect light and healthy dish before the main course. Would you recommend to eat it before workout as well?

    • Czardilyn Buyawe

    I am going to rate this recipe more that 5 star. I really love salad and these are amazingly delicious

    • Marie Phillips

    This is one of my favorite summer time lunches. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Heidi

    If I can make something in 20 minutes I am all over it! And this one looks delicous too!

    • Kathy Kenny Ngo

    Ooohhh now I want some of these. I think I need to learn to make more salads so that my family and I can eat healthier thing.

    • Bhuvi

    Wow this looks so yummy. Lovely and healthy recipe.Thanks for sharing.

    • tweenselmom

    I love how this looks absolutely delicious! Looking forward to making this sometime, thank you for sharing the recipe with us!

    • Sundeep

    This really looks super delicious and healthy too. Recipe looks easy and doable. I will definitely going to make this salad.

    • Gervin Khan

    Indeed! Easy and delicious salad. From the title itself, it sounds good!

    • Bella

    oh my gosh this looks so good!!! I totally wanna make this. quick recipes are my favorite

    • Mosaics Lab

    OMG this looks SO GOOD!!! I want to make it tonight for dinner, I can’t can’t wait!!! Looks delicious.

    • Karen J

    From your photos it looks like you have some mustard seeds in the dressing. Do you use any stong ground mustard as an emulsifier? I don’t see it on the ingredient list. Thanks!

      • chewoutloud

      Karen, good catch, thank you! I updated recipe to reflect 1 tsp whole seed mustard 🙂 Hope you love this!

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