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This warm orzo pasta salad is filled with Mediterranean-inspired ingredients like sautéed cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, fresh basil, and parmesan! Everything is tossed in a simple red wine vinaigrette, before serving warm. Recipe is super easy to make and ready in 35-minutes!

Warm mediterranean orzo salad in a serving bowl.

If you’re looking for a simple, yet incredibly tasty pasta salad to serve as a vegetable and grain-based side dish – this warm, Mediterranean orzo salad will be perfect for you!

Orzo cooks in just 7 minutes and is paired with a simple mix of sautéed veggies, freshly chopped herbs, grated parmesan, and a homemade salad dressing. This recipe is meant to be enjoyed as a warm pasta salad, but you are welcome to have leftovers cold, if preferred.

As always, I’ve included a handful of protein serving ideas below for inspiration. I hope you enjoy this one 🙂

Want more dietitian-designed orzo recipes? You may also love my popular summer lemon orzo salad, this cozy vegetable orzo soup, or this pesto orzo with shrimp!

Recipe ingredients in small bowls.

Recipe ingredients + possible substitutions

  1. Orzo: Also known as risoni, orzo is a short pasta that’s shaped like a large grain of rice. It cooks super quickly – only 7 minutes – and has a lovely texture. If you follow a gluten-free diet, you may use a gluten-free orzo – brands like DeLallo and Jovial both carry a GF option. Otherwise, you may use a another short shape of gluten-free pasta instead.
  2. Shallot: I enjoy the slightly milder flavour of shallots here, but you are welcome to swap with an onion if preferred.
  3. Cherry tomatoes: I recommend choosing vine-ripened cherry tomatoes for the best flavour! You may also use another variety of small tomato instead, such as grape tomatoes.
  4. Bell peppers: Feel free to use either red, orange, or yellow sweet bell peppers here – or a combination for more colour variety.
  5. Fresh basil: I would not recommend swapping fresh basil for dried basil; it’s a large component of the recipe and will not have the same effect.
  6. Fresh parsley: See note above – I would not swap fresh parsley with the dried version.
  7. Parmesan: I recommend using freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano for the best flavour and quality. If you’re vegan/dairy-free, you are welcome to swap with a dairy-free alternative if you have one that you enjoy.
  8. Olive oil: The olive oil and the remaining ingredients below are all used to make the red wine vinaigrette dressing.
  9. Red wine vinegar: While I love the way red wine vinegar pairs with the warm, hearty flavours of this salad, you can swap it with a white wine vinegar if needed.
  10. Lemon
  11. Honey
  12. Dijon mustard
  13. Garlic powder: I like the way that garlic powder dissolves into the dressing, but you are welcome to use freshly minced garlic cloves if preferred.

Full ingredient measurements and detailed instructions are located in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!

Visual guide: how to make warm orzo salad

Orzo cooked in a pot.

STEP 1: You’ll want to start this recipe by cooking orzo according to package directions. Typically, I’ll cook it in boiling water for about 7 minutes. Drain, then stir in a splash of olive oil to keep the orzo from sticking together.

Cherry tomatoes and bell peppers cooking in a large pan.

STEP 2: While the orzo cooks, you can sauté the shallot, chopped peppers, and cherry tomatoes.

Pouring dressing on orzo salad.

STEP 3: Then, add the cooked veggies to the orzo, along with the chopped herbs and grated parmesan. Pour the homemade red wine vinaigrette overtop.

Tossing salad ingredients together.

STEP 4: Finally, toss everything together to combine, seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm!

Serving ideas

This orzo salad is a delicious vegetable and grain-based side dish to your favourite proteins. Below are some pairing ideas:

  • shellfish, like sautéed shrimp, broiled lobster tails, or seared scallops
  • fish, like baked salmon or cod
  • poultry, like grilled chicken or turkey
  • for a vegetarian option, you may enjoy this with hard-boiled eggs or roasted chickpeas

Orzo nutrition benefits

Orzo is a source of carbohydrates, which help to give us energy to fuel our daily lives. It’s also a source of plant-based protein, with a 1/2-cup serving providing 7 grams.

While it depends on the brand, orzo products are usually enriched with B-vitamins. If you choose a whole grain source of orzo, it will often include other vitamins and minerals as well.

In addition to orzo, you will of course be reaping the nutrition benefits of the other ingredients in this salad, like tomatoes, peppers, fresh herbs, and olive oil!

Warm mediterranean orzo salad in a serving bowl.

More pasta salad recipes

Did you give this Warm Mediterranean Orzo Salad Recipe a try? Let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below!

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Get the Recipe: Warm Mediterranean Orzo Pasta Salad

This warm orzo pasta salad is filled with Mediterranean-inspired flavours like sautéed cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, fresh basil, and parmesan! Everything is tossed in a simple red wine vinaigrette, before serving warm.
Warm mediterranean orzo salad in a serving bowl.
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup orzo (dry/uncooked)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ a small shallot, diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (use vine-ripened for best flavour)
  • 2 medium-large bell peppers, cored + chopped (red, orange, or yellow)
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup basil, chopped
  • 1 cup parmigiano-reggiano, grated
  • Salt + pepper, to taste

Dressing:

Instructions

  • Bring a pot of water to boil for the orzo.
  • Meanwhile, add all dressing ingredients together in a small jar. Shake vigorously to combine. Set aside.
  • Cook orzo in boiling water, about 7 minutes. Drain + set aside.
  • At the same time, heat olive oil in a pan over medium. Cook shallots and bell peppers for 7 minutes, seasoning with salt + pepper. Then, add in cherry tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Combine cooked orzo, cooked veggies, chopped herbs, and grated parmesan in a large bowl.
  • Pour dressing overtop. Toss to combine, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm!

Notes

*SERVINGS: Recipe as written will make about 4-6 servings, depending on hunger levels and unique needs. Nutrition facts are calculated based on 4 servings; if this recipe makes 6 servings the numbers will be lower.
*LEFTOVERS: Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. You can enjoy them cold, or reheat them in the microwave or on the stovetop. 
*RECIPE MODIFICATIONS:
  • If you follow a gluten-free diet, you may use a gluten-free orzo – brands like DeLallo and Jovial both carry a GF option. Otherwise, you may use a another short shape of gluten-free pasta instead. Please follow the cooking instructions on the package, as it may differ from regular orzo.
  • You may swap the shallot with a small yellow onion, although it will have a slightly stronger flavour.
  • You are welcome to use 2 minced garlic cloves instead of garlic powder in the dressing.
  • While I love the way red wine vinegar pairs with the warm, hearty flavours of this salad, you can swap it with a white wine vinegar if needed.
 
*SERVING IDEAS: I recommend serving this dish with a protein, such as…
  • shellfish, like sautéed shrimp, broiled lobster tails, or seared scallops
  • fish, like baked salmon or cod
  • poultry, like grilled chicken or turkey
  • for a vegetarian option, you may enjoy this with hard-boiled eggs or roasted chickpeas
Calories: 436kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 461mg | Potassium: 500mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 3543IU | Vitamin C: 127mg | Calcium: 252mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition

As a dietitian, I create recipes with whole food ingredients that provide the nutrients needed for optimal health. My nutrition philosophy does not focus on numbers; however, I understand that this information can be helpful.

Do note that the nutrition info provided is an estimate and I cannot guarantee correctness of the displayed values. These numbers will differ depending on brands used, recipe modifications, and amount eaten. If you require specific nutrition information due to medical reasons, please consult with your dietitian or physician.

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Let me know by leaving a recipe rating below, or by tagging @walderwellness on Instagram. I love seeing your beautiful creations!

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