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This Vegan Mediterranean Orzo Salad is the perfect summertime dish! It's veggie-packed and filled with fresh, zesty flavors that will keep them coming back for more. It'll be ready in 30 minutes or less, too!
This Vegan Mediterranean Orzo Salad will be a hit at your next barbecue, picnic, or potluck. It's the perfect summer side that goes well with just about everything. Everyone will love it!
But, you don't need a special occasion to make this orzo salad. It goes well with weeknight meals and it's wonderful for meal-prepping. Plus, it's easy to customize and you can change it up every time to keep it fun!
Ingredients, Notes, and Substitutions
Before you head to the recipe card below, here are some extra notes about the ingredients and some substitutions ideas to try:
- Orzo - if you don't have orzo, you can use ditalini, elbow, or orecchiette pasta.
- Red onion - you can use sliced green onion or omit it altogether. If you want to tone down the onion flavor, you can soak the diced pieces in cold water with a few teaspoons of lemon juice for 10 minutes. Then just drain before use.
- Cucumber - I used an English cucumber, but you can also use 2 Persian cucumbers or a standard cucumber.
- Tomatoes - I used grape, but cherry tomatoes work well, too. If you don't like tomatoes, you can use sliced or diced red bell pepper.
- Olives - kalamata goes well here, but you can use any type that you have on hand. If you don't like olives, you can add 2-3 tablespoons of capers.
- Artichoke Hearts - if you don't have them, hearts of palm will be a nice replacement.
- Fresh Herbs - basil, parsley, dill, or mint are all great choices. If you use mint or dill, you may want to reduce the amount by half so it doesn't overpower the dish.
- Vegan Feta - you can also use vegan shredded parmesan, mozzarella, or cubed cheese.
How to make Vegan Mediterranean Orzo Salad
This salad is a cinch to put together. Here's how you do it:
- Cook the orzo according to package directions. Rinse, then drain well and drizzle with oil. Set aside.
- To make the dressing, whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl.
- To put it all together, add the orzo, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, and basil to a large bowl. Pour in the dressing and toss to combine. Add half of the vegan feta and gently toss again. Top with the remaining feta and extra basil.
Orzo Salad Success Tips
This Mediterranean Orzo Salad is fool-proof and is so easy to make. Here are some tips to help you along:
- The dressing is on the zesty side which I love, but it's easily adjusted by taste. You can reduce the zestiness, by cutting the vinegar, dijon, and lemon down a bit. If you do that, I would suggest, reducing the oil to ⅓ cup.
- Don't overcook the orzo or it'll be too soft for the salad. I like to cook it al dente so it holds its shape and doesn't break down.
Orzo looks very similar to rice with its thin, oval-shaped appearance, but it's actually made with wheat-based flour and it's considered a type of small-shaped pasta called "pastina" or "little pasta". Even though rice and orzo look the same you can't interchange them in many recipes because they cook up differently and yield a different texture
It may be harder to find, but there are various brands that carry gluten-free orzo pasta such as De Cecco, DeLallo, and Jovial. If you can't find them at your local grocer, you can find them online.
More summer recipes to try
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Vegan Mediterranean Orzo Salad
- 1 ½ cups dried orzo
- ½ cup red onion , diced small
- 1 large English cucumber quartered into triangles
- 1 pint grape tomatoes , halved
- ⅔ cup kalamata olives , halved or left whole
- 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts , drained and quartered
- ½ cup chopped basil + more for topping
- ½ cup vegan feta
- ½ cup olive oil , extra virgin
- 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice , more to taste
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2.5 teaspoons agave nectar or preferred sweetener
- 2-3 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic or 1 clove fresh, minced
- ½ teaspoon granulated onion
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt , more to taste
- Fresh-cracked pepper to taste
- Large Salad Bowl
- Small Bowl
- Cook the orzo: Place orzo in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking, then drain well and drizzle with oil. Set aside.
- Make the dressing: In a small/medium bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together. Adjust flavors as needed. It might taste a little tangy or salty, but it will be spread over a lot of ingredients, so keep that in mind.
- Put it together: In a large bowl, add the orzo, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, and basil. Now pour the dressing over everything and gently toss to combine. Now add half of the vegan feta and gently toss again. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Top with the remaining feta and extra basil. Serve immediately or let marinate for a few hours in the fridge.
so delightfully FRESH! tasty, satisfying, and fun to eat. I whipped this up tonight in celebration and honor of the last day of this summertime season. perfect.
I used half the amount of olive oil and added slivered almonds as well as (heated up) frozen peas to offset the zing of the lemon and red wine vinegar for a more fatty, smooth flavor.
What a great way to end summer! So happy you enjoyed this recipe and made it work for you with those adjustments. 🙂
Delicious! I skipped the dressing and just had it as fresh veggies with orzo and it is definitely going to be a staple for me. I may add some tzatziki sauce next time.
Thank you for trying it, Carly. I am happy you enjoyed it so much. Have a great day.
This looks yummy. I am oil free. Is there a way to make the dressing without the oil?? Thanks.