Packed with roasted vegetables, fresh basil, and mozzarella, and drizzled with a light and fresh vinaigrette, this lemon orzo salad is simple and delicious!
I loooove a good summer salad, and this roasted veggie orzo salad is incredible!
The best part about it is that it’s super customizable and adaptable to ingredients (especially the veggies!) you prefer or happen to have on hand.
Orzo Salad Ingredients
Behold the delicious components of this lemon orzo salad:
- orzo pasta
- fresh basil
- fresh mozzarella cheese
- roasted asparagus, zucchini, and shallots
- toasted pine nuts
- lemon vinaigrette (more on that in a sec!)
Substitutions for a Great Salad
And while I think the orzo is pretty necessary for this to be a, well, orzo summer salad, the other ingredients can be changed up to your liking!
You can sub in other veggies, like broccoli or peppers. Swap the fresh mozzarella out for Parmesan cheese. And maybe use toasted sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts?
I happen to really love the lineup in this recipe, but a little resourcefulness and creativity will work great with this adaptable salad!
Also, can we have a moment of silence for HOW GOOD ROASTED SHALLOTS ARE? If you don’t know, let me tell you: SO GOOD. So, so good.
Simple Lemon Vinaigrette
Whatever you do in your creative swapping and subbing, don’t skip the light and fresh lemon vinaigrette!
It makes an otherwise normal orzo salad completely extraordinary.
The ingredients in the lemon vinaigrette are straightforward but the combined result is incredibly yummy:
- fresh lemon juice
- olive oil
- a tiny bit of honey
- garlic, salt and pepper
I pour the dressing over the entire salad and toss. The leftovers are fantastic (if there happen to be any!).
If you’re looking for the perfect spring or summer salad, this is it.
And truthfully, this can easily be a year-round salad thanks to the easy substitutions.
This would make a perfect offering for any upcoming party, potluck, or get-together.
But if you are a bit peopled out right now (ahem, me), or you don’t have any big partying plans, it could just as easily work for a yummy lunch or simple dinner! Optional but tasty idea: throw some grilled chicken in the mix. YUM!
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Roasted Asparagus Lemon Orzo Salad
- 1 cup orzo pasta (about 6-7 ounces/170-200 grams)
- 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 pound zucchini, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 small/medium zucchini)
- 2 medium shallots, sliced (or 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup cubed fresh mozzarella
- ¼ to ½ cup fresh basil, torn or thinly sliced
- ½ cup toasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- Pinch salt and pepper, plus more to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place the asparagus, zucchini, and shallots on a half sheet pan, toss with oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden and the veggies are crisp-tender (cook them longer if you want the vegetables softer).
While the vegetables cook, bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the orzo pasta until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
For the dressing, combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk or blend until smooth. Add additional salt and pepper, to taste, if needed.
I like to wait until the pasta and roasted vegetables are at room temperature before assembling the salad, but you can assemble it while the ingredients are warm.
To assemble, toss the orzo, roasted vegetables, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil together in a serving bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the top and toss to combine. Top with pine nuts. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. The salad can be eaten chilled or at room temperature.
Adaptable: the ingredients for this salad are very adaptable. You can try using other veggies (broccoli, peppers, etc), swapping out the fresh mozzarella for another kind of cheese, or use toasted sunflower seeds in place of the pine nuts.
Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 321kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 12mg, Sodium: 129mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g
Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (inspired by a recipe in Cuisine at Home)
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