A bowl of Mediterranean orzo salad is all you need if you love the savory goodness of simple ingredients like olives, tomatoes, and artichokes. These bright, summery ingredients are full of delicious flavors and health benefits. This is an easy summer dish and including cute orzo (pasta rice) makes it a little extra special.

This is a great make-ahead option, perfect for balmy summer barbecues as a side salad. If you love seeking out new salad recipes, check out this butter bean or my tasty beet and avocado salad with couscous.

Why You’ll Love This Mediterranean Orzo Salad

  • Versatile: Add or substitute ingredients based on what you have on hand or to your taste. It’s a really great base recipe to add to. If you have a Mediterranean ingredient in your fridge or cupboard, it’s likely to go beautifully with this Mediterranean orzo salad recipe.
  • Fresh and healthy ingredients: Mediterranean cuisine is all about fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, and healthy oils. This bowl of goodness is a super healthy addition to your table for a perfect light lunch.
  • Easy to make: No great skills are needed for easy pasta recipes like this one. Cooking the pasta rice and chopping the rest of the ingredients is all it takes. Great for busy weeknights.
  • Perfect for parties and potlucks: Easy to transport and pretty as a picture. This is a great side to take to a party or barbecue. Perfect with a glass of chilled white wine.
  • Satisfying and filling: Despite being but a humble salad, this Mediterranean orzo salad is surprisingly filling. The “meaty” artichokes and tasty orzo make it a substantial salad.
  • Meal prep friendly: Make a big batch and keep it in the fridge. Spoon the salad into individual containers and enjoy it all week long. Great to take to work for lunch or school lunch boxes.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Orzo pasta: Orzo is a rice shaped pasta – aka vegan orzo risotto. It cooks quickly, so keep your eye on it. Look for regular or whole wheat orzo pasta, depending on your preference. You can also use a different type of small pasta or short cut pasta if you like. Use a gluten free orzo pasta if you need to.
  • Marinated artichoke hearts: You can find them in jars or cans at your local grocery store. Be sure to halve them before adding them to the salad. They are so tasty! Switch these out for other soft, creamy vegetables like cannellini beans.
  • English cucumber:  These have a mild flavor, thin skin, and fewer seeds. They add a lovely crunch to the salad and contrast nicely with the richer ingredients in the salad.
  • Grape tomatoes: So sweet and juicy! Regular beef or cherry tomatoes can also be used.
  • Kalamata olives: Ensure they are pitted and halve them before adding them to the salad. These olives add a briny and savory note to the dish.
  • Vegan feta cheese: Look for vegan feta cheese made from plant-based ingredients like tofu or nuts. The vegan feta adds a salty and creamy component to the dish.
  • Red onion: Mild and slightly sweet flavor to the salad. Slice them thinly and soak them in cold water for a few minutes to reduce their sharpness if you prefer.
  • Vegan Greek dressing: You can either make a homemade dressing using ingredients like olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs or look for a store-bought one. Add some smooth cashew cream if you prefer a creamy dressing.
  • Parsley: Use any Mediterranean herb you like. Basil and oregano are lovely in this recipe, too.

Pro Tips and Tricks

  • Cook the orzo al dente: You want a tender orzo that is still slightly firm to the bite. Overcooking the orzo can land you with a mushy pasta texture.
  • Cook the orzo in vegetable stock: Or vegetable broth for extra flavor! Just add a teaspoon of veggie stock to the water.
  • Rinse the orzo: After cooking the orzo, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process and remove excess starch. This will help prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  • Toss the orzo in olive oil: This will prevent the pasta from clumping together.
  • Marinate the artichokes: If you have time, marinate the artichoke hearts in the dressing for a little while before assembling the salad. This will bump up the flavor.
  • Adjust the dressing: Add a portion to the salad and then gradually add more as needed. Some people prefer a lightly dressed salad. Fresh lemon juice or lemon zest with a little olive oil works as a light dressing.
  • Let it chill: After you’ve assembled the salad, refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and enhances the overall taste.
  • Season well: Don’t forget to give it a good crack of black pepper and some salt. Seasoning a salad rounds off the flavor.

Variations and Add-Ins

  • Protein boost: Add protein to your salad with grilled tofu or tempeh. Chickpeas are a lovely vegan protein-based ingredient to add in.
  • Leaves: Slice up some baby spinach or your favorite lettuce leaves to bulk up the salad.
  • Roasted veggies: Roasted red bell peppers, zucchini, red onion, or eggplant can add a smoky and charred flavor to the salad. Before roasting, cut them into bite-sized pieces and toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Fresh herbs: Mint, dill, or fresh basil can add a refreshing and aromatic touch.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes:  These will deepen the flavors of the salad and make it taste richer. This common Mediterranean ingredient will easily slide into this recipe.
  • Pine nuts or almonds: For a yummy crunch and nutty flavor to the salad. Toast them and sprinkle them on top.
  • Arugula or spinach: For added greens and extra color.
  • Lemon zest: Simply grate the outer skin of a lemon and sprinkle it over the salad for a refreshing twist.
  • Toasted pita bread: This is a classic pairing with this Mediterranean orzo salad.
  • Vegan parmesan: Such as nutritional yeast adds extra cheesy flavor.

Make Ahead Instructions and Storage

Here are some ideas on how to make up some of the ingredients ahead of time.

  1. Cool to room temperature, set it aside, and pop it in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the rest of the salad.
  2. Or, you can prepare all the ingredients and combine everything, except the dressing and parsley, in a large bowl. Set that aside in the fridge until you can combine and serve it.

To store leftover vegan orzo salad, pack it into an airtight container and pop it in the fridge. The salad will keep well for 3-4 days. Eating it in the first 2 days is best, especially if it’s already dressed.


Can I use a different type of pasta instead of orzo for the Mediterranean Orzo Salad? 

Absolutely! While orzo is traditional for this salad, you can substitute it with other small-shaped pasta such as rotini. Remember that different pasta shapes may alter the texture slightly.

Can I make this salad gluten-free?

You can make this salad gluten-free by using gluten-free orzo pasta or switching the orzo with a gluten-free pasta alternative, such as rice or corn pasta. Check the ingredient list if using a store-bought Greek dressing for gluten.

Can I prepare the dressing ahead of time?

Yes. You can make the dressing a day or two ahead and store it in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Give it a good shake before using it in the salad, as some separation may occur.

Can I make the Mediterranean Orzo Salad without dairy or vegan cheese?

Yes, if you prefer to omit dairy or vegan cheese, you can!



  1. Cook the orzo according to the package and add to a large mixing bowl
  2. Next, add the veggies to the mixing bowl and toss until well combined
  3. Toss with vegan Greek dressing
  4. Top with vegan feta crumbles and serve warm or cold

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

Course Main Course, Salad


  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 7 oz marinated artichoke hearts halved
  • 1 cup English cucumber diced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives pitted and halved
  • 1/3 cup vegan feta cheese crumbled
  • 1/3 cup red onion diced
  • 1/2 cup vegan Greek dressing or to taste
  • parsley for garnish


  • Cook the orzo according to the package and add to a large mixing bowl
  • Next, add the veggies to the mixing bowl and toss until well combined
  • Toss with vegan Greek dressing
  • Top with vegan feta crumbles and serve warm or cold