Crunchy veggies and orzo pasta are tossed in a creamy, yogurt-dill vinaigrette, created a simple, delicious side dish. Perfect for entertaining or a brown-bag lunch, this orzo salad recipe can be made up to three days in advance.
When the warm weather arrives in Michigan, I get so excited for outdoor farmers markets to re-open. I am not a gardener, but I do appreciate fresh veggies and the local farmers that work hard to produce them. Fresh peas, asparagus, rhubarb, and lettuces are my favorites to bring home during spring.
I definitely prefer fresh herbs and vegetables for my recipes, but I know depending on your location and season they can be hard to come by. That’s okay! You can always substitute fresh peas for frozen, or fresh dill for dried.
Growing up in a middle eastern household, plain yogurt was a staple in our refrigerator. I continue to eat it every single day and probably finish a 32-ounce container myself every week. It’s the perfect meat tenderizer, smoothie enhancer, or sour cream replacement on a sweet potato.
Plain yogurt can be used in any season in your recipes. This orzo salad with yogurt dill dressing is great for spring with fresh peas, but yogurt is also great in the fall with Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt Parfaits or Turkey Chili with Sriracha Yogurt Sauce. I add plain yogurt to top my Crock Pot Butternut Squash Soup and mixed into my Chocolate Banana Greek Yogurt Pancakes during the winter months, and cool, creamy yogurt is perfect in Veggie Wraps with Chipotle Yogurt Sauce and drizzled on top of Beef Shawarma with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce in the summertime.
How to make Orzo Dill Salad
First things first, prep your veggies. Wash, dice, chop and set aside for later. My husband requested carrots but use any fresh veggies that you can get your hands on such as radishes, celery, or red peppers.
You can do the steps in any order, but I prefer to chop my veggies while the orzo is cooking to save time, but it truly doesn’t matter. In fact, every time I make this recipe, I change it up a bit depending on time.
Preparing the orzo is as simple as following the directions on the package. Orzo is similar to rice in its shape and size but is, in fact, a cut of pasta. You can also substitute with whole wheat orzo for extra fiber and protein or use quinoa to keep gluten free.
To be honest, this dish is more about the dressing than the pasta: fresh herbs, garlic, and lemon juice are whisked together with plain yogurt and silky olive oil to create a mouth-watering vinaigrette. Delicious on orzo, it would be just as good drizzled over grilled asparagus or roasted salmon.
When the orzo has about 2 minutes left, I’ll add the peas to the boiling pot for a quick flash cook. If you’re using frozen peas, you can thaw them or cook them – either way is fine.
I think this salad is best served chilled the same day as it’s made, but you can feel free to make it in advance. Just know that the orzo absorbs some of the dressing over time, so you may need to toss with extra olive oil right before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Orzo is a type of pasta, similar to rice in its shape, size, and texture. It’s fairly high in calories, about 50% more than an equal serving of rice. Whole wheat orzo has more fiber and protein, which also makes it a great choice in this salad.
Absolutely. Use whatever pasta and vegetables you have on hand. I also love making this salad with radishes, red peppers, and celery.
This salad is a great side dish for a summer barbecue or on its own as your lunch. I love pairing it with Honey Chipotle Grilled Chicken or something spicy like Tart Cherry Chinese BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders.
I usually throw my fresh peas in with the orzo the last few minutes of cooking. Saves a pot and lots of time.
Your fork is waiting.
Orzo Salad with Yogurt-Dill Vinaigrette
- 1 pound orzo
- 1 cup peas fresh or frozen
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 1 medium red onion minced
- 1 cup plain low fat yogurt
- 4 tablespoons parsley minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil and cook orzo according to package instructions. When you have 2 minutes of cooking time remaining, add the peas to the pot. Strain peas and pasta and set aside.
- At the bottom of a large mixing bowl, whisk together the Yogurt-Dill Vinaigrette: yogurt through olive oil.
- Add orzo, peas, carrots and onion to the bowl with the vinaigrette and toss well to combine. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
Over time, the pasta will absorb a bit of the vinaigrette so feel free to drizzle with a little extra olive oil or lemon juice or add a bit of salt if needed before serving.