Tri-Colore Orzo Pasta Salad

Confession Number One:  I hate pasta salad.  Always have.  Pasta salad is mushy and tastes like bad Italian dressing.  So you can understand my hesitancy in calling this dish that I absolutely love a pasta salad.  This salad hasn’t even seen a bottle of Italian dressing and its crunch-factor laughs in the face of all things mushy.

Tri-Colore Orzo Pasta Salad

The one thing this dish does have in common with pasta salad is that it’s beyond simple to make.  Orzo.  Feta cheese.  Toasted pine nuts.  Dried cranberries.  Chopped arugula.  Olive oil.  Lemon juice.  Salt/pepper.  Done.  Confession Number Two: I’ve absolutely eaten a large bowl of this for dinner before.  So, here you have it, a pasta salad that is nothing like pasta salad.

ingredients on baking sheet

Despite my fears of Italian cooking, making orzo is not terribly intimidating.  Perhaps it’s because orzo is so much smaller than the other pastas.  Perhaps it’s because orzo looks deceptively like a non-Italian ingredient (rice).  Perhaps it’s because orzo is just really simple to make.  Boil water.  Add orzo.  Cook for 9 minutes.  Drain.  Done.  Nothing intimidating about that.  You can do that.  Then toss in some simple ingredients (practically straight from their containers) and you’ll have a fancy looking dish that people will be begging you for the recipe.  And … you’re welcome.

tri-colore orzo pasta salad


Tri-Colore Orzo Pasta Salad

Cook Time: 10 minutes


1 pound orzo pasta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
2 cups fresh arugula, roughly chopped
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries, roughly chopped
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


- Fill a large pot with salted water. Bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender, approximately 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Drain the pasta and spread over a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and stir to combine. Let cool.
- In a large bowl, add the pasta and all remaining ingredients. Gently stir to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Adapted from Giada DeLaurentis' Tri-Colore Orzo

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