Orzo & Arugula Lemon Thyme Salad

This 30-minute salad filled with veggies, mozzarella & orzo and tossed with a bright lemon vinaigrette is perfect for a spring or summer weeknight dinner.

In case it isn’t obvious… I love lemons. Ending a dish with a squeeze of lemon or a bit of zest, to me, makes the whole world seem just bit brighter. And now I’m revealing my newest lemon-y obsession… lemon thyme. I have a bunch of it growing in my garden, and it just smells so amazing. Sweet, bright, fragrant… move over basil. (Ok, not really).

My first thought was that this lemon thyme needs to be in a cake. But I’m not exactly Jeanine the baker, so my second thought was to make a bright summery salad with lots of lemon zest to bring out the herby flavor even more.

So here you have a lemon thyme vinaigrette that I poured over a warm salad of orzo, arugula, and bits of creamy fresh mozzarella. I added some sun-dried tomatoes for tang and toasted chopped walnuts for a nice crunch. A perfect (easy) Monday meal that’ll make you forget that it’s Monday. Pair this with a nice bottle of prosecco (or a cheap one, no judgement), and you’ll really forget that the week has only just started.

5.0 from 2 reviews

Orzo & Arugula Lemon Thyme Salad

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2 as a main, 4 as a side
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 2 cups arugula or spinach
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mozzarella
  • 3-4 dry or oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup toasted and chopped walnuts or other nuts
  • Lemon, for squeezing
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
For the lemon thyme vinaigrette:
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped lemon thyme, plus more for garnish
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  1. Cook the orzo in boiling salted water for about 7-10 minutes, or until al dente.
  2. Make the lemon thyme vinaigrette: Whisk together the olive oil, garlic, vinegar, lemon zest, lemon thyme, and pinches of salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  3. Place the arugula in a large bowl. When the orzo is done, use a slotted spoon to scoop the hot orzo over the arugula. Some of the pasta water will come over, that’s ok. If you don’t have a slotted spoon with small enough holes, drain your pasta and reserve some of the pasta water to add in.
  4. Add the mozzarella and pour in some of the dressing. Toss to combine, and the arugula will begin to wilt from the heat of the pasta. Add as much or as little of the dressing as you like. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. Top with the reserved lemon thyme, lemon zest, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, and a squeeze of lemon. Serve warm or at room temperature with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.




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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Rii

    omg this is insanely delicous! I thought i made too much for one person but I’m pretty sure I’ll eat the whole thing to myself!

  2. Christina Gibson

    So yummy! I was in a little hurry so just grated the peel of one big lemon and added some dried time. Added the juice of half of the big lemon. I used already prepared frozen Jasmine rice in place of the orzo. Delicious!
    Everything else was as written.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.