The perfect summer dish! Whip up this zingy Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad With Cucumber & Feta in under 20 minutes! Packed full of fresh herbs this is a great accompaniment to any BBQ. Includes dairy free and gluten free options.
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Summer is here! I love making pasta salads when the weather is warm, they are really versatile as there are so many types of pasta out there and an endless choice of what you can mix into the pasta.
One of my favourites is my Chorizo & Red Pepper Pasta Salad, although this orzo salad is now up there in joint first place!
This lemon orzo pasta salad with cucumber and feta is fresh, herby, has a lemony zing and is packed full of goodness!
It's super easy to make, just cook the pasta, chop the herbs, cucumber and cherry tomatoes (which the kids will love to help with) make the dressing and mix together!
Ideal for a summer picnic, serving alongside your BBQ or as a lunch standing tall and proud in its own right! This is a pasta salad the whole family from your toddler, through to Grandma will love!
Can’t eat gluten or dairy? Fear not, read on to find out how you can easily make this salad gluten and dairy free!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Orzo Pasta - The small rice shape of orzo works really well in this salad. In the UK it is quite difficult to find a gluten free version, so if you need to make this dish GF, you can substitute orzo for another small pasta like this Gluten Free Anellini or use long grain rice and transform it into a rice salad!
- Feta - The salty feta compliments the fresh crunchy cucumber. For a dairy free version why not try this Violife Greek White feta style cheese. If cooking for children and they are not keen on the feta flavour, why not use mozzarella instead?
- Cherry Tomatoes - Are sweet and juicy and are my preference for this recipe. Although you could use standard tomatoes and chop into small pieces.
- Lemon - Both the juice and the zest of the lemon is used in this recipe, this is the star ingredient! You can buy waxed or unwaxed lemons. Waxing is carried out to preserve the freshness of the skin.When using the skin of the lemon for something e.g zesting or slicing to put in a drink, I recommend using unwaxed. Waxed is fine if you are just using the juice inside.
- Fresh Basil - Fresh is best! I wouldn’t recommend substituting for dried herbs as it will result in an all together different flavour.
- Fresh Parsley - Along with the basil, adds a fresh herby flavour to the dish.
- Olive Oil
- Honey - Used with the olive oil and lemon for the dressing. The honey tones down the sharp lemon flavour. Note that honey is only suitable for babies from 12 months old.
Scroll to recipe card for quantities.
How To Make Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad With Cucumber & Feta
Cook the orzo as per packet instructions. When cooked, drain and then run the orzo under cold water. This will stop the pasta sticking together and halt the cooking process so the pasta will not go soggy.
Dice the cucumber into very small squares and slice the cherry tomatoes in half and then in half again.
Chop the basil and parsley finely (including stalks).
Juice and zest the lemon. Be careful not to grate any of the white pith of the lemon, as this can be very bitter.
Mix the juice and zest of the lemon with the honey and olive oil in a lidded pot or salad dressing shaker and shake together to form the dressing.
Mix all of the chopped ingredients, along with the dressing into the orzo and stir until everything is mixed through.
Season to taste.
Crumble the feta cheese on top of the salad and serve.
Hint: Making this salad a bit ahead of time and letting it sit in the fridge will allow the flavours to really soak into the salad.
A salad dressing shaker is really handy to have as you can safely mix up the dressing without worrying if its going to explode all over the kitchen! (If you don’t have one of these just use a small pot with a good, sturdy lid)
I love a bright salad bowl Here are a few of my favourites!
Lemon Zester - this can also be used to grate parmesan and ginger!
You can store this orzo pasta salad in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If the salad is a little dry, simply drizzle some olive oil over the top of the pasta and stir though before serving.
I wouldn’t recommend freezing this recipe, as it wouldn’t hold up to defrosting aesthetically, however it is perfectly safe to do so for up to 3 months.
Orzo means “Barley” in English and is a small thin oval shaped pasta. Many people confuse it with rice as they both look very similar , however it is a pasta made from semolina flour.
In fact I think it tastes even better the next day, as the flavours have had a chance to infuse and the zingy lemon and fresh herbs really shine through.
If you need to make this recipe dairy free, either substitute the feta for a dairy free version like this one, or slice some grilled chicken or flaked cooked salmon on top instead.
To make gluten free, simply use a gluten free pasta. Gluten free Orzo is quite hard to get hold of in the UK (If you manage to find some, drop me a message and let me know where!) however a small pasta like an Anellini can be used instead, or alternatively some long grain rice will transform this dish into a delicious rice salad.
This salad makes a healthy, light side dish to accompany a summer BBQ or can be served as a lunch in its own right.
Great paired with a piece of freshly grilled salmon or sea-bass, chicken or steak.
Serve for a BBQ with a selection of salads including my Red Pepper & Chorizo Pasta Salad.
Let me know if you love this recipe in the comments below!
Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad With Cucumber & Feta
- 200 g orzo pasta can be substituted for gluten free pasta or long grain rice.
- 75 g feta cheese can be substituted for gluten free feta
- ½ cucumber diced into small squares
- 200 g cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1 lemon juice & zest of
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey only suitable for children over 12 months
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the orzo as per packet instructions. When cooked, drain and then run the orzo under cold water.
- Dice the cucumber into very small squares and slice the cherry tomatoes in half and then in half again.
- Chop the basil and parsley finely (including stalks).
- Juice and zest the lemon.
- Mix the juice and zest of the lemon with the honey and olive oil in a lidded pot or salad dressing shaker and shake together to form the dressing.
- Mix all of the chopped ingredients, along with the dressing into the orzo and stir until everything is mixed through.
- Season to taste.
- Crumble the feta cheese on top of the salad and serve.
Let me know what you think of this recipe!