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Lemon Orzo Salad With Basil and Bell Pepper

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This lemon orzo salad is fresh and bright, with zingy lemon, fresh herbs, peppers, and feta cheese. A perfect side dish for summer picnics.

This lemon orzo salad recipe makes the perfect side dish for the warmer months. It’s full of flavor with fresh basil and mint, roasted bell pepper, and salty feta cheese.

tossed pasta salad with green herbs and peppers.

These bright flavors pair so well with the lemony orzo salad base.

What is orzo?

Orzo is a type of pasta that’s found at the grocery store. It is a tiny pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice. Its small size lets it absorb flavors from dressings and sauces really well.

Once the cooked orzo is al dente, the hot pasta is tossed in a dressing of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, maple syrup, and seasonings. As it cools it soaks up this delicious lemon vinaigrette and the tender orzo takes on this flavor.

Ingredients

You only need a handful of ingredients for this orzo pasta salad recipe. Find the amounts in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here is a rundown of what you will need.

  • Orzo pasta
  • Fresh lemons
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Maple syrup (or honey)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh Basil and fresh mint leaves. You can add in fresh parsley too if you want more variety.
  • Bell peppers – You can use any color but the orange and red pepper are the sweetest.
  • Feta cheese (or use crumbled goat cheese)
bird's eye view of orzo salad.

Roasted bell peppers

Roasting bell peppers enhances the flavor and caramelizes the natural sugars in sweet peppers. This gives them extra sweetness. It breaks down the peppers too so that they are super soft and juicy.

You can roast the peppers in the oven, or in the air fryer to make this extra fast without needing to turn on the oven. See how to roast peppers in the air fryer.

There is no need to peel the bell peppers. The skin is not thick and it’s easy to eat. If you do wish to peel the peppers, then this is easy to do after they have been cooked 

Method

Preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C. Quarter the peppers and remove the seeds and the pith. The easiest way to do this is to hold the tops of the peppers and slice off each quarter.

Lightly drizzle the pepper quarters with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast in the hot oven for around 20-25 minutes until the skin and edges are a bit blistered and charred and the peppers have softened.

If you want to peel the peppers, let them sit in a covered bowl or container to lightly steam after cooking. Once cooled to room temperature, the skin can be peeled off.

While the peppers are cooling, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in a generous pinch of salt.

When the water is boiling, add the orzo. Cook the orzo in the salted water for around 6-8 minutes until al dente, or use the time suggested on the package instructions. While the orzo cooks, in a large bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients.

Drain the cooked orzo then tip it on top of the dressing. Toss it together to coat the hot orzo in the dressing.

orzo being tipped into a bowl of dressing.
a spatula stirring orzo.

Chop the cooled peppers into bite-sized pieces. Shred the mint leaves and roughly tear the basil leaves. Add these to the bowl of orzo along with crumbled feta cheese. Toss everything together to mix all together.

The final step is to add extra seasonings according to taste.

a bowl of red and orange peppers, green herbs, feta and orzo.

Serving

The salad can be served warm or cold. It’s a great side to grilled chicken. This is a great make-ahead salad if you want to meal prep. Store leftover orzo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

The salad can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. You may want to make a little extra dressing to pour over the defrosted salad.

bird's eye view of salad.

Additions

A simple salad like this can easily be added to add more of your favorite flavors! Try adding:

tossed pasta salad with green herbs and peppers.

Lemon Orzo Salad With Basil And Bell Pepper

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This lemon orzo pasta salad is fresh and bright, with zingy lemon, fresh herbs, peppers, and feta cheese.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium bell peppers
  • 8oz / 230g orzo pasta
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves
  • 2oz / 55g feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C.
  2. Quarter the peppers and remove the seeds and the pith. The easiest way to do this is to hold the tops of the peppers and slice off each quarter.
  3. Lightly drizzle the pepper quarters with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast in the hot oven for around 20-25 minutes until the skin and edges are a bit blistered and charred and the peppers have softened. If you want to peel the peppers, let them sit in a covered bowl or container to lightly steam after cooking. Once cooled to room temperature, the skin can be peeled off.
  5. While the peppers are cooling, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in a generous pinch of salt.
  6. When the water is boiling, add the orzo. Cook the orzo in the salted water for around 6-8 minutes until al dente, or use the time suggested on the package instructions.
  7. While the orzo cooks, in a large bowl whisk together the 4 Tablespoons of olive, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, maple syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  8. Drain the cooked orzo then tip it on top of the dressing. Toss it all together to coat the orzo.
  9. Chop the cooled peppers into bite-sized pieces. Shred the mint leaves and roughly tear the basil leaves. Add these to the bowl of orzo along with crumbled feta cheese. Add on a crack of black pepper and extra salt according to taste.
  10. Toss everything together. Serve the salad warm or cold. Leftover salad can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 353Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 219mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 4gSugar: 11gProtein: 9g

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