Asparagus Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Loaded with sautéed asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil & feta cheese all tossed in a vibrant lemon vinaigrette – this asparagus orzo salad has the most amazing flavor! It comes together quickly & makes a perfect side dish for Spring or Summer!

A small bowl of asparagus orzo salad topped with feta cheese sitting next to fresh lemon wedges

Bright, zesty and full of flavorful ingredients – this asparagus orzo salad has it all!

In case you haven’t noticed, pasta salads are kind of my jam…and I’ve been dying to make an orzo pasta salad for such a long time. Spring seemed like the perfect opportunity! With seasonal ingredients like fresh asparagus, basil and a zippy lemon vinaigrette sweetened with honey, this salad is a true winner!

But I think what seals the deal for me is that it only takes 30 minutes from start to finish and you’re left with a delicious and refreshing pasta salad! You can make it ahead of time for a tasty work lunch or serve it as a side dish alongside your favorite grilled entrees. Either way, your family and friends are going to love it!

Ingredients used to make an asparagus orzo salad

Ingredients You’ll Need

Orzo pasta: Any brand of orzo works for this recipe. (We usually use Barilla.)

Asparagus: Use slightly thicker asparagus for the best results. (They’ll hold up better to the rest of your ingredients.)

Sun dried tomatoes: Use sun dried tomatoes packed in oil for the best results. (I try to find julienned sun dried tomatoes so there’s no cutting involved too.)

Red onion: Keep your onion slices thin so they don’t over power the other ingredients.

Fresh basil: Adding fresh herbs to your salad is a great way to elevate it’s flavor. Feel free to add more or less basil depending on your preference!

Feta cheese: I always suggest buying a block of feta and crumbling it yourself. (It has much better flavor than store bought feta crumbles.)

Lemons: You’ll need fresh lemon juice for the vinaigrette and lemon zest for the salad. (Adding lemon zest to the salad itself brings out it’s vibrant lemony flavor.)

Olive oil: Used as the base of your vinaigrette. We always use Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil for our salad dressings. (It’s lighter and more mild in flavor – perfect for letting those lemon flavors shine!)

Honey: One tablespoon of honey is used to sweeten the vinaigrette without making it too sweet.

Garlic: You’ll need 2 minced garlic cloves for the vinaigrette.

Spices: Salt & black pepper are all you need to season your orzo salad!

A small white bowl filled with lemon vinaigrette to use for an orzo salad
A large clear mixing bowl filled with cooked orzo, sautéed asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, fresh basil and lemon zest

How To Make Asparagus Orzo Salad

1. Boil the orzo. Boil 1 cup of orzo according to the package’s directions then carefully drain it and set it aside.

2. Sauté the asparagus. Add a splash of olive oil to a large skillet and heat it over medium heat. Once hot, add the asparagus and sauté for 5-8 minutes or until they’re just tender. Season with salt and pepper then transfer them to a cutting board and cut the asparagus (on the bias) into 1 inch pieces. Set them aside once done.

3. Make the vinaigrette. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic, salt and black pepper together in a large measuring glass and set it aside.

4. Toss. Add the orzo, chopped asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, sliced onion, fresh basil, lemon zest and crumbled feta cheese to the large bowl. Pour your desired amount of vinaigrette over the top and season with cracked black pepper. Toss until the salad is coated to your liking then taste and adjust the salt and pepper, if needed. (Note: This recipe makes a large amount of vinaigrette so don’t feel the need to use it all at once. We’ll usually serve extra vinaigrette on the side and save the rest to re-toss our leftover salad with later.)

5. Serve. Serve immediately with extra crumbled feta and sliced basil sprinkled over the top (or keep it chilled in the refrigerator for 30 minutes – 1 hour before serving.)

A large clear bowl filled with freshly made asparagus orzo salad sitting next to a small plate of lemon wedges

Variations

Keep this salad as is or add your own spin to it! Here are a few of our favorite ideas to help get you started:

  • Add some protein! Try diced chicken, cooked shrimp, salmon or even chickpeas for a vegetarian option.
  • Use a variety of veggies! Add other “pickled ingredients” like canned artichokes and olives – or go for freshness with crisp cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Get some extra greens in with a handful of fresh spinach or arugula too!
  • Let’s add some crunch! Toasted pine nuts or pistachios would be great additions.
  • Switch up the herbs! Replace the basil with fresh dill for more of a Mediterranean feel.
  • Serve it warm or cold! This orzo salad is fantastic either way!
A bowl of asparagus orzo salad tossed in a lemon vinaigrette with a serving spoon digging into it

Why you’ll love this orzo salad recipe!

  • Vibrant flavors! Tart sun dried tomatoes, salty feta cheese + a sweet & zesty lemon vinaigrette – this salad is loaded with ingredients that just scream flavor!
  • Comes together quickly! Only 30 minutes from start to finish & you’re left with the most incredible side salad!
  • Perfect for parties! We love a “scoopable salad” for parties & potlucks! It’s easy to serve & your guests get a little bit of everything in every bite! It’s the perfect potluck salad!
  • An easy meal-prepped lunch! Preparing this salad in advance enhances it’s flavors making it a delicious option for lunches during the week!

[Made one of my recipes? Tag my Instagram @kalefornia_kravings & leave a review in the comments – I love seeing what you create!]

Asparagus Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Loaded with sautéed asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil & feta cheese all tossed in a vibrant lemon vinaigrette – this asparagus orzo salad has the most amazing flavor! It comes together quickly & makes a perfect side dish for Spring or Summer!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: asparagus orzo salad, lemon vinaigrette, orzo salad, salad recipes, side dish recipes, Spring recipes, summer recipes
Servings: 5 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

For the orzo salad:

  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 1 bundle of asparagus
  • ½ cup (heaping) sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil), chopped or sliced*
  • of a red onion, sliced thin
  • cup fresh basil, sliced thin (packed)
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (plus more for serving)
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste

For the lemon vinaigrette:

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Boil the orzo. Boil the orzo according to the package's directions then carefully drain it and set it aside.
  • Sauté the asparagus. Add a splash of olive oil to a large skillet and heat it over medium heat. Once hot, add the asparagus and sauté for 5-8 minutes or until they're just tender.
    Season with salt and pepper then transfer the asparagus to a cutting board and cut them on the bias (diagonally) into 1 inch pieces. Set them aside once done.
  • Make the vinaigrette. Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together and set it aside.
  • Toss. Add the orzo, chopped asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, fresh basil, crumbled feta cheese and lemon zest to the large bowl. Pour your desired amount of vinaigrette over the top and season with cracked black pepper. Toss the salad until it's coated to your liking then taste and adjust the salt and pepper, if needed.
    (Note: This recipe makes a large amount of vinaigrette so don't feel the need to use it all at once. We'll usually serve extra vinaigrette on the side and save the rest to re-toss our leftover salad with later.)
  • Serve. Serve immediately with extra crumbled feta and sliced basil sprinkled over the top (or keep it chilled in the refrigerator for 30 minutes – 1 hour before serving).

Notes

*I’ve found that a 6.7oz jar of sun-dried tomatoes usually works.

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