Here’s what you can do with all those garden tomatoes and cucumbers!
This refreshing and zippy Cucumber Tomato Orzo Salad is always a hit at gatherings and is one of my go-to recipes when I need to bring a side dish.
This orzo pasta salad is seasoned with fresh mint and basil, all tossed in an easy homemade lemon, red wine vinegar, and honey vinaigrette dressing.
The Perfect Summer Pasta Salad
This is my all time favorite summer pasta salad. It’s tangy and light — no mayo anywhere in sight. The recipe came from a coworker who put her own spin on Giadia’s Orzo salad recipe from Food Network. Of course, I then added my own twist.
I kept my coworker’s inclusion of cucumbers and got rid of Giada’s chick peas, then adjusted the measurements since I wanted a little less oil. I substituted grape seed oil for the olive oil since my hubby can’t have olive oil (poor guy). I often use grape seed oil as an olive oil substitute since the flavor is nicer than regular cooking oil.
This orzo pasta salad has hints of Mediterranean flavor.
The combination of mint and lemon are what gives this dish it’s most recognizably “Mediterranean” flavor. Although Mediterranean foods commonly employ a number of other spices, mint and lemon can be found as the main flavors in other Mediterranean dishes such as tabbouleh.
Love Mediterranean flavors? Browse all my Mediterranean inspired recipes.
Make more or less depending on your need.
The recipe below makes enough for our small backyard barbecues, so if you wanted to make this for lunches or just as a dinner side item, then I’d half the recipe.
I’ve gotten a lot of rave reviews from friends and family every time I make this so I have a feeling you’re going to enjoy this one! You may want to make a big batch. 😉
No problem. Substitute the chicken bullion with vegetable bullion when cooking the orzo.
For a punch of extra flavor, and to give this pasta salad a Greek flair, trying adding feta cheese. It totally changes the taste so if you make this recipe often, this is a great way to mix things up from time to time.
How to Make and Store this Homemade Vinaigrette Dressing
You’re going to l-o-v-e this honey vinaigrette dressing, I promise! It goes great on anything. Fresh veggies, garden salads as well any cold pasta salad.
So if you want to, you can actually double or triple the recipe for the dressing and then save the extra. It stores well, kept cold in the fridge for several months.
I use a Mason Jar with a pour cap to store the extra dressing.
Want more easy side dish ideas?
Check out all my side dish recipes!
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If you like this orzo pasta salad, then you’ll love my variation of this recipe, just without orzo. It’s the same light, Mediterranean flavors, just without orzo so it comes together in just 10 minutes. Perfect for a quick weeknight vegetable side dish.
This Cucumber Tomato Orzo Pasta Salad summer side dish recipe was featured on South Your Mouth!
- 8 cups water
- 3 tsp chicken or vegetable bullion
- 16 oz box orzo pasta
- 2 pints grape tomatoes quartered
- 1/3 cup red onion thinly sliced and chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves chopped
- 2 cucumbers peeled, quartered and sliced
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup grape seed oil
- 2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tsp honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large, covered, non-stick pot, bring water and chicken or vegetable bullion to a boil. Add orzo and reduce to a low boil and partially cover. Cook, stirring frequently for 7 minutes. Move orzo to a large bowl and set aside to cool.
- Prepare the dressing by placing all of the ingredients in a mason jar, tighten the lid, then shake.
- When orzo has cooled, add tomatoes, onion, basil, mint, cucumbers and 3/4 of the dressing. Toss. Chill for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
- Add remaining dressing and toss right before serving.