Meatless Monday – Mediterranean Orzo

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Toss together cooked orzo, sun dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, crumbled feta and fresh herbs with a lemon dressing for a quick, fuss free meal.  I just love a dish that doesn’t need to be babied or involve a lot of prep, no oven and can be ready in 20 minutes, plus cooling time.  This delicious pasta dish is served at room temperature, so you can make it and let it sit until you are ready which makes it perfect for a summer buffet or when you have guests for dinner.  Or better yet, make this the day before and bring to room temperature to serve while you sit back and enjoy a glass of wine…

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I love this combination of flavors and colors. The orzo (which is pasta not rice) absorbs the lemon vinaigrette along with the sun dried tomatoes in oil.  The herbs and onions add a freshness while the olives and feta add a wonderful saltiness as the final touch. I have made this for a large party and tossed with roasted shrimp with great success but I prefer it just like this.  I think I like it better the next day, so feel free to make it ahead. To avoid waiting for the orzo to cool, cook it ahead of time and just toss all ingredients together for a 10 minute meal.

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In purchasing feta, I advise getting a block in water rather than already crumbled.  The quality is better and you can control the size of crumbles.  Often the pre-crumbled feta is very small and would get lost in this dish.

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MEDITERRANEAN STYLE ORZO

  • 3/4 lbs orzo pasta (or gluten free orzo)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup scallions, minced white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced or small dice
  • 8-12 oz feta cheese, large crumble or dice

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  • Cook the orzo according to package instructions, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Do not rinse.

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  • Whisk together the lemon juice,  olive oil, salt and pepper and pour over the hot pasta. Mix well.

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  • Stir in the sun dried tomatoes with oil and the olives. Set aside to cool and allow the juice and flavors to absorb.  If it seems too dry, add a bit more olive oil.

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  • While the pasta is cooling, thinly slice the scallions, thinly slice the red onion and cut the slices in half (or finely dice) and chop the parsley.

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  • When pasta is cool, add the scallions, parsley, onion and mix well.

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  • Add the feta and stir gently. Taste and add seasoning as needed. Set aside at room temperature to allow the flavors to blend (the longer the better).

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TIPS:  This recipe can be made a day ahead and refrigerated overnight. Just bring it back to room temperature and check seasonings before serving.

Mediterranean Orzo

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 3/4 lbs orzo pasta (or gluten free orzo)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup scallions, minced white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced or small dice
  • 8-12 oz feta cheese, large crumble or dice
  1. Cook the orzo according to package instructions, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Do not rinse.
  2. Whisk together the lemon juice,  olive oil, salt and pepper and pour over the hot pasta. Mix well.
  3. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes with oil and the olives. Set aside to cool and allow the juice and flavors to absorb.  If it seems too dry, add a bit more olive oil.
  4. While the pasta is cooling, thinly slice the scallions, thinly slice the red onion and cut the slices in half (or finely dice) and chop the parsley.
  5. When pasta is cool, add the scallions, parsley, onion and mix well.
  6. Add the feta and stir gently. Taste and add seasoning as needed. Set aside at room temperature to allow the flavors to blend (the longer the better).

TIPS:  This recipe can be made a day ahead and refrigerated overnight. Just bring it back to room temperature and check seasonings before serving.