The word orzo is Italian for “barley,” It’s also called risoni or “big rice”. It’s a form of short-cut pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice. Orzo is also called kritharaki, manestra, rosa marina, reiskornpasta, or pasta gallo pion. This pasta is very popular in Greece, and is also used in other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern nations** The classic use of orzo is in soups but it can be used in pilafs and casseroles. I especially enjoy it in salads with Mediterranean flair.
This recipe is easy, nutritious and bursting with flavor. It comes together in just 30 minutes and it’s a total crowd pleaser. It’s the perfect salad to take to a barbecue or a summer picnic.
For this recipe, I used Trader Joe’s Italian Orzo made with durum semolina wheat. If you are gluten-free, try DeLallo Gluten-Free Pasta Corn & Rice Orzo 12 oz.
Vegan Mediterranean Orzo Salad
- 16 oz Italian Orzo
- 3 medium cucumbers small diced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives sliced
- 1 medium red onion small diced
- 15 oz can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 cup fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic small minced
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup fresh basil finely chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
Cook the orzo pasta 8-10 minutes following the package instructions. Drain and set it aside to cool down.
Meanwhile, cut the cucumber, tomatoes, olives, onion and parsley. Transfer to a serving bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk all of the dressing ingredients together.
When the pasta is cool, transfer it to the serving bowl along with the dressing.
Toss everything together.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
Recipe adapted from Pumpkin + Peanut Butter
** For more information about orzo, check wiseGEEK