©Amy's Cuisine™ | Orzo Basil Salad Recipe. A simple recipe with a Mediterranean flair. Orzo, tomatoes, celery, onion, garlic, fresh basil, topped with feta cheese and cubed chicken. Easy to adjust to make Vegetarian, Gluten Free or Vegan.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Orzo Basil Salad

Delicious yet simple salad made with readily available ingredients. Healthy and full of the flavors of the Mediterranean, this is a recipe you can count on for any occasion.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time9 mins
Total Time19 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Mediterranean, orzo, salad
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 457kcal
Author: Amy of Amy's Cuisine
Cost: $4

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • sharp chef knife
  • large stock pot
  • large saucepan
  • large mixing bowl
  • large mixing spoon

Ingredients

  • 4 cups orzo cooked
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken OR plant-based substitute, cubed
  • 1/2 cup green olives pitted and sliced, try pimento-stuffed, garlic flavored to add some pizzazz
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives pitted and sliced
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper diced
  • 1 cup tomato chopped

Sofrito

  • 1 cup yellow onion diced
  • 1 cup celery diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup tomato chopped
  • 2 TBSP fresh basil leaves cut into chiffonade

Garnishes

  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil optional
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese OR plant-based substitute, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley chopped, for garnish

Instructions

  • Cook orzo according to package instructions. Rinse in cold water to cool.
  • As orzo cooks, cube and cook chicken (or chicken-less pieces). Cut chicken into cubes. Add extra virgin olive oil to large saucepan. Add cubed chicken to pan and sautee until cooked thoroughly. Set aside.
  • Clean and prepare all vegetables and herbs. Pit and thinly slice green olives and Kalamata olives. Chop tomatoes and separate into two equal portions--one portion will be used in sofrito, while the other portion remains raw and is added directly to salad. Dice onion, celery and yellow bell pepper. Mince garlic. Lastly, chiffonade fresh basil leaves and loosely chop flat leaf parsley.
  • Prepare sofrito. Pour extra virgin olive oil into saucepan. Add diced onions and sautee until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add diced celery, stirring continuously while sauteeing for 1 minute. Add garlic, basil leaf chiffonade, and one portion of tomatoes. Stir and sautee for 2 minutes.
  • Assemble salad. Pour cooked/cooled orzo into large serving bowl. Mix in prepared sofrito (sauteed onion, celery, garlic, tomato, basil). Top with cubed chicken, green olives, Kalamata olives, raw tomatoes, yellow bell pepper and feta cheese.
  • Garnish and serve. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil (optional), balsamic vinegar over salad. Add salt and pepper to taste, and mix in well. Sprinkle chopped flat leaf Italian parsley over top of salad and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • To make vegetarian, substitute a favorite plant-based protein for chicken.
  • To make vegan, substitute a plant-based protein for chicken and a favorite plant-based cheese substitute for feta.
  • Tasty additions/substitutions include black olives, Greek olives, pickled beets, roasted aubergine/eggplant, zucchini, fresh avocado and cilantro. Try new additions and add a comment with your favorites!
  • Chiffonade: a knife technique/slicing motion in which leafy green vegetables (think of spinach or Swiss chard), or a flat-leaved herb like basil, are rolled up into a cigar shape, then cut into long, thin strips.
  • Serve immediately, or store in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 457kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 390mg | Potassium: 376mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 546IU | Vitamin C: 41mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 1mg

I simply LOVE eating my way around and through the Mediterranean. We hear about The Mediterranean Way of Life often, but until you experience the lifestyle, climate and food culture firsthand, it’s difficult to comprehend. How do these beautiful people stay so fit and healthy for so many years? After all, traditional Greek and Italian recipes don’t skimp on oil or avoid carbs. 

WHAT IS ORZO BASIL SALAD?

When we look at the name of this dish, we see orzo, a small semolina pasta shaped like over-sized grains of rice. When cooked al dente, orzo has an idyllic texture, something of a cross between crunchy and chewy. Next, we see basil. Basil leaf is a flavorful savory herb used in a variety of Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Its taste is slightly different when it is fresh versus after is is cooked.

Other common ingredients in this Orzo Basil Salad recipe include olive, fresh tomato and bell pepper. Add a soffritto of onion, garlic, celery and tomato, and now we’re cookin’!

WHAT KIND OF KITCHEN EQUIPMENT WILL I NEED TO MAKE THIS PASTA SALAD?

First, gather the necessary kitchen tools and equipment. If you’re missing something, don’t worry. You may always borrow something from a friend or buy it online. You’ll see links below within the equipment list below for easy shopping. 

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • sharp (chef’s) knife
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • large mixing bowl
  • large mixing spoon
  • large soup or stock pot
  • large saucepan

DAMN GOOD COOK’S TIP:  

Great cooks begin by gathering and setting out all the kitchen equipment and ingredients they will need to create a dish. Chefs refer to this as mise en place, meaning “everything set up and in its place”.  I recommend reading through every step below, even before preparing your kitchen equipment and ingredients for this recipe, to assure your best success in making this dish taste as delicious as it looks.

HOW DO I MAKE ORZO BASIL SALAD?

After gathering all the necessary kitchen equipment and tools, it is time to gather and prepare your ingredients necessary for our recipe. We begin with the star of this dish: orzo.

Cook the orzo according to the package instructions. Rinse in cold water to cool.

As the orzo cooks, we prepare and cook the chicken (or chicken-less pieces). Cut the chicken into cubes. Add extra virgin olive oil to a large saucepan and turn to medium high heat. Add the cubed chicken to the saucepan and sautee until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Set aside.

If you prefer to make this dish vegetarian, plant-based or vegan, it’s simple. I substitute chicken-less pieces, chickpea protein pieces, tempeh or seitan. You may opt to omit the protein altogether. Whatever you choose, I guarantee it will be tasty! This dish is delectable with its beautiful vegetables and aromatics, with or without added protein.

Once the orzo and chicken(less pieces) are cooked, it’s time to clean and prepare the fresh veggies, herbs and aromatics. Mmm!

First, pit and thinly slice the green olives and the Kalamata olives. To pit olives, simple use a sharp knife to slice to the center pit. Keeping the knife pressed to the pit, slowly and carefully guide the knife around the olive around the entire outside. Grabbing both sides, gently twist the olive away from the pit. Discard the pit. Once the pits are removed from all of the olives, slice them thinly.

Next, chop the tomatoes and separate them into two equal portions–one portion will be used in soffritto, while the other portion remains raw and is added directly to the salad.

Dice the onion, celery and yellow bell pepper. Mince the garlic.

Lastly, chiffonade the fresh basil leaves and loosely chop the flat leaf parsley.

Chiffonade: a knife technique/slicing motion in which leafy green vegetables (think of spinach or Swiss chard), or a flat-leaved herb like basil, are rolled up into a cigar shape, then cut into long, thin strips.

Prepare the soffrittoPour extra virgin olive oil into a large saucepan. Turn heat up to medium high. Add the diced onions and sautee them until they are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the diced celery, stirring continuously while sauteeing for 1 minute. Add the minced garlic, the basil leaf chiffonade, and one portion of the chopped tomatoes. Stir and sautee for 2 minutes.

Now it’s time to assemble our Orzo Basil Salad. Pour the cooked and cooled orzo into a large serving bowl. Add in our prepared soffritto (sauteed onion, celery, garlic, tomato, basil), green olives and Kalamata olives.

Mix in the raw tomatoes and yellow bell pepper. Top with chop fresh parsley and feta cheese or cheese substitute.

Now top the salad with chicken or other protein, if you opt to include this step.

Just before serving, we dress the salad. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil (optional) and balsamic vinegar over the salad. Add salt and pepper to taste, and mix in well.

Recipe Notes

  • To make vegetarian, substitute a favorite plant-based protein for chicken.
  • To make vegan, substitute a plant-based protein for chicken and a favorite non-dairy/plant-based option for feta.
  • Tasty additions/substitutions include black olives, Greek olives, pickled beets, roasted aubergine/eggplant, zucchini, fresh avocado and cilantro. Try new additions and leave a comment with your favorites!
  • Chiffonade: a knife technique/slicing motion in which leafy green vegetables (think of spinach or Swiss chard), or a flat-leaved herb like basil, are rolled up into a cigar shape, then cut into long, thin strips.
  • Serve immediately, or store in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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©Amy's Cuisine™ | Orzo Basil Salad Recipe. A simple recipe with a Mediterranean flair. Orzo, tomatoes, celery, onion, garlic, fresh basil, topped with feta cheese and cubed chicken. Easy to adjust to make Vegetarian, Gluten Free or Vegan.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Orzo Basil Salad

Delicious yet simple salad made with readily available ingredients. Healthy and full of the flavors of the Mediterranean, this is a recipe you can count on for any occasion.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time9 mins
Total Time19 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Mediterranean, orzo, salad
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 457kcal
Author: Amy of Amy’s Cuisine
Cost: $4

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • sharp chef knife
  • large stock pot
  • large saucepan
  • large mixing bowl
  • large mixing spoon

Ingredients

  • 4 cups orzo cooked
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken OR plant-based substitute, cubed
  • 1/2 cup green olives pitted and sliced, try pimento-stuffed, garlic flavored to add some pizzazz
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives pitted and sliced
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper diced
  • 1 cup tomato chopped

Sofrito

  • 1 cup yellow onion diced
  • 1 cup celery diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup tomato chopped
  • 2 TBSP fresh basil leaves cut into chiffonade

Garnishes

  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil optional
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese OR plant-based substitute, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley chopped, for garnish

Instructions

  • Cook orzo according to package instructions. Rinse in cold water to cool.
  • As orzo cooks, cube and cook chicken (or chicken-less pieces). Cut chicken into cubes. Add extra virgin olive oil to large saucepan. Add cubed chicken to pan and sautee until cooked thoroughly. Set aside.
  • Clean and prepare all vegetables and herbs. Pit and thinly slice green olives and Kalamata olives. Chop tomatoes and separate into two equal portions–one portion will be used in sofrito, while the other portion remains raw and is added directly to salad. Dice onion, celery and yellow bell pepper. Mince garlic. Lastly, chiffonade fresh basil leaves and loosely chop flat leaf parsley.
  • Prepare sofrito. Pour extra virgin olive oil into saucepan. Add diced onions and sautee until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add diced celery, stirring continuously while sauteeing for 1 minute. Add garlic, basil leaf chiffonade, and one portion of tomatoes. Stir and sautee for 2 minutes.
  • Assemble salad. Pour cooked/cooled orzo into large serving bowl. Mix in prepared sofrito (sauteed onion, celery, garlic, tomato, basil). Top with cubed chicken, green olives, Kalamata olives, raw tomatoes, yellow bell pepper and feta cheese.
  • Garnish and serve. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil (optional), balsamic vinegar over salad. Add salt and pepper to taste, and mix in well. Sprinkle chopped flat leaf Italian parsley over top of salad and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • To make vegetarian, substitute a favorite plant-based protein for chicken.
  • To make vegan, substitute a plant-based protein for chicken and a favorite plant-based cheese substitute for feta.
  • Tasty additions/substitutions include black olives, Greek olives, pickled beets, roasted aubergine/eggplant, zucchini, fresh avocado and cilantro. Try new additions and add a comment with your favorites!
  • Chiffonade: a knife technique/slicing motion in which leafy green vegetables (think of spinach or Swiss chard), or a flat-leaved herb like basil, are rolled up into a cigar shape, then cut into long, thin strips.
  • Serve immediately, or store in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 457kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 390mg | Potassium: 376mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 546IU | Vitamin C: 41mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 1mg