Make this fresh, fun orzo salad recipe for your next picnic! With lots of fresh herbs, juicy mango, and crisp veggies, it's summer food at its finest.
I first made this orzo salad recipe at my mom’s house. When I dug through her fridge, I found crunchy veggies, summer herbs, and a big, juicy mango that I absolutely had to use. I caught sight of a box of orzo pasta and a can of chickpeas in her pantry, and I immediately thought – orzo salad! It would be hearty enough to serve for dinner, but light and refreshing for the heat wave that was happening that night. I tossed together crunchy cucumbers, red onion, fresh herbs, and mango and dished it up for my family. While we ate, they kept asking for this orzo salad recipe. Well, here it is!
Orzo Salad Recipe Ingredients
I use these key ingredients to fill this orzo salad recipe with fun flavor and texture:
- Whole wheat orzo is the base of this salad. If you can’t find whole wheat orzo, regular orzo will work in its place.
- Garbanzo beans add protein and hearty texture.
- Mango adds a sweet, juicy contrast to the crisp veggies.
- Diced cucumber and red bell pepper add fresh, crunchy texture.
- Red onion and garlic fill out the flavor and add extra crunch.
- Fresh herbs and arugula add fresh flavor and lots and lots of green.
- Pine nuts finish it with a toasty crunch.
- Tahini makes the creamy, dairy-free base of the dressing, while lemon juice & sherry vinegar brighten it up. I also add cumin and sweet paprika for a little spice.
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
Orzo Salad Recipe Variations
Like most salads, this one is flexible, so have fun using what you have on hand to make a salad you love! Here are a few of my favorite variations:
- Add a sprinkle of cheese. Crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese would be delicious.
- Make it gluten-free. Substitute quinoa or brown rice for the orzo, or use your favorite gluten-free pasta.
- Try another summer fruit. Diced peaches would be lovely instead of the mango.
- Switch the greens. Use spinach or soft baby greens instead of arugula.
- Use different veggies. Halved cherry tomatoes or thinly sliced radishes would both be great additions.
- Swap the nuts. Toasted sliced almonds would be just as good as pine nuts.
- Roast your chickpeas. For extra crunch!
Let me know what variations you try!
Orzo Pasta Salad Serving Suggestions
This orzo pasta salad recipe is pretty filling on its own – chickpeas and hearty whole wheat orzo make it a complete meal. It actually tastes better the second day, so pack it ahead for a picnic or a weekday lunch.
It’s also a fantastic summer side dish! We love to serve it with classic picnic fare like corn on the cob, grilled veggies, and any of these hearty vegetarian main dishes:
- Best Veggie Burger
- Black Bean Burger
- BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches
- Portobello Mushroom Burger
- Cauliflower Po’ Boy Sandwich
More Favorite Summer Salads
If you love this orzo salad recipe, try one of these delicious summer salads next:
- Easy Pasta Salad
- Best Broccoli Salad
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- Cherry Tomato Couscous Salad
- Summer Asian Slaw
- Greek Salad
- Or any of these 37 best salad recipes!
And if you have leftover orzo, make stuffed peppers!
Rainbow Orzo Salad
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 ripe mango, cubed
- 1 small cucumber, chopped (1½ cups)
- ½ small red onion, diced (1/3 cup)
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ chopped fresh herbs (mint, basil, and/or cilantro)
- ½ cup uncooked orzo
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 1 packed cup arugula
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sherry or white wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, combine the red pepper, mango, cucumber, red onion, garlic, chickpeas, herbs, salt, and several grinds of fresh black pepper.
- Cook the orzo according to the package directions or until al dente. Drain, gently rinse, toss with a little olive oil oil and set aside to cool to room temp before adding to the salad.
- Make the dressing. In a small bowl, stir together the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, cumin, sweet paprika, salt and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of water until it's a drizzle-able consistency.
- Add the orzo, dressing, and arugula to the salad and toss to coat. Season to taste and top with toasted pine nuts.
Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days. It's a great make-ahead salad for lunch the next day.
Made this for lunch today as my body was craving something healthy. I could not find whole wheat orzo so I used regular. I used frozen mango chunks as the mangos in the market were rock hard. Well, that was much easier! I roasted the chick peas and used basil instead of cilantro since the plant in my backyard was coming to an end. I used white wine vinegar in the dressing instead of sherry. Absolutely delicious and beautiful to look at! Thank you for the inspiration!