Some nights I crave a good salad. One that’s easy to make, flexible on ingredients, and nutrient dense that’s why this Italian orzo salad is perfect for when those cravings strike!
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Being able to make quick substitutes to a recipe means I’ll make it more often. No cucumber, try zucchini. No red bell pepper, try another color. Not into olives, add a different pickled veggie.
Of course you could always replace the orzo with quinoa, but then we’d need to change the recipe to say ‘Italian Quinoa Salad’. All kidding aside, the swaps we mentioned are great alternatives if you don’t have those specific ingredients on hand.
This Italian orzo salad makes a great addition as a side salad for any meal. We highly recommend topping it with your favorite protein to turn it into a meal though. Grilled chicken or salmon are two of our favorites!
The main ingredient that really sets this spinach salad apart from other orzo salads is the barrel aged balsamic vinegar. Aging balsamic gives creates a deliciously thick, almost syrup like in consistency vinegar that actually has a sweet taste to it. The balsamic we are using here takes it up a notch because it was aged in a bourbon barrel — think notes of oak, caramel, and a hint of char.
Making the salad is really easy. Starting with a spinach base, you’ll chop all your veggies first and mix together the Italian topping. Layering the chopped veggies over the spinach, then drizzling with the Italian dressing and the Bourbon Balsamic. Check out the video at the end of the recipe to see first hand just how quick it goes together!
Italian Orzo Salad
- 2 oz Orzo
- 2 cups Baby Spinach
- 2 in piece English Cucumber [chopped]
- 1/4 Small Red Onion [chopped]
- 1/4 Red Bell Pepper [chopped]
- 1 oz Green Olives [sliced]
- 1 oz Feta Cheese [optional]
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice
- 1/4 tsp Oregano
- 1/4 tsp Garlic [minced or powder]
- Sea Salt & Pepper [to taste]
- 1 tbsp Bourbon Barrel Aged Balsamic Vinegar
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the orzo pasta for 8 minutes. Drain, rinse￼, and set pasta aside to cool. Prep veggies while pasta is cooking.
- Transfer the cooled orzo to a large mixing bowl. Add the spinach first, then chopped vegetables, and olives. Crumble cheese over top.
- In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour over salad.
- Finish with a a drizzle of bourbon balsamic vinegar.
- Chill this salad for at least an hour prior to serving for the best flavor.
- To speed this recipe up, use a pre-made Italian dressing instead of mixing your own.
- Top with your favorite protein to make this a complete meal!
Tell us in the comments below: What’s your favorite pickled veggie?
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