This vegan orzo pasta salad with crunchy asparagus, leafy spinach and creamy feta is a perfect addition to your summer BBQs and picnics. Packed with simple yet delicious summer flavours, it’s a total crowd pleaser.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about the upcoming BBQ season! It’s been one long and dark winter and coming out of it feels so good. As soon as the sun makes an appearance here in England, everyone seems to get their BBQs on! In my humble opinion, every BBQ should be accompanied by a stella salad and this vegan orzo pasta salad is a delicious addition to your summer table.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS ORZO SALAD RECIPE
- Its super easy & quick to prepare
- Oozes simple yet delicious summer flavours
- Can be prepared in advance
- Perfect accompaniment to your summer BBQ and picnics
- Highly customizable
- Healthy & nutritious
- Can be made gluten free (see below for gluten-free alternatives)
WHAT GOES INTO ORZO SUMMER SALAD
One of the good things about this orzo salad is that it’s highly customizable. Below are some ideas of how you can make this vegan orzo salad suit your taste buds:
- Orzo pasta adds texture, flavour (especially when it absorbs the dressing flavours) and makes the salad more filling. You can use quinoa (for a gluten free version), couscous or small pasta shells instead.
- Asparagus brings an extra crunch, as well as additional nutritional goodness. You can use green beans instead of asparagus.
- Spinach leaves cab be substituted with rocket (arugula), green lettuce, green pea shoots, watercress or any other salad leaves of your choice.
- Cucumber adds fresh flavours and an extra crunch.
- Olives bring a little taste from the Med and add a little saltiness.
- Vegan feta cheese mixed in with basil & spinach dressing adds creaminess to this salad.
- Basil adds fresh summer flavours. I’d recommend sticking to basil here, as it works so well with all the other Mediterranean flavours.
- Pumpkin seeds for extra crunch. You can use pine nuts or toasted almond flakes instead.
CAN I MAKE IT IN ADVANCE?
Yes! You can make it a day before. It tastes even better the next day, when orzo pasta has absorbed all the delicious flavours from the basil & spinach dressing.
HOW TO MAKE A SIMPLE SUMMER SALAD DRESSING
Blitz together a bunch of basil, spinach leaves, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper in a high power blender. That’s it! Your dressing is done! This dressing is great for any salad and so easy to make too.
LOOKING FOR MORE SALAD INSPIRATION?
Check out some of the readers’ favourite recipes below:
- Vegan potato salad (no mayo)
- Super easy spring green salad
- Superfood salad with red chicory, blood oranges & red cabbage
- Grilled nectarine & lentil salad
- Fresh watermelon salad with vegan Parmesan
I really hope you’ll get to recreate this flavour punching vegan orzo salad. If you do, be sure to drop a comment here on the blog, tag me in your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest so I don’t miss them. It gives me so much joy seeing your takes on my recipes!
Take care and see you next week.
ORZO PASTA SALAD WITH ASPARAGUS, SPINACH & FETA (VEGAN)
For the salad:
- ½ cup 100g orzo pasta (uncooked)
- 10 asparagus spears ends trimmed
- 2 handfuls of spinach leaves
- ½ cucumber diced
- 4 tbsp green olives sliced
- 3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 25 g vegan feta cheese
For the dressing:
- A bunch of fresh basil 6 sprigs
- A big handful of spinach leaves
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Cook orzo pasta according to the packet instructions. When ready, rinse through the cold water to stop it from cooking further. Drain and set aside.
- To cook the asparagus, bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the asparagus, season with salt and cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes until the asparagus has just softened. You want to make sure not to overcook it as we want the asparagus to retain its crunch. Once cooked, drain the water and add the asparagus into a bowl of ice cold water. It’ll stop asparagus from cooking further and will help to retain its bright green colour.
- Whilst the asparagus is cooking, prepare the dressing. Blitz all dressing ingredients in a high-power blender until smooth. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
- Add a quarter of the dressing into the bowl with cooked orzo pasta and mix well to ensure the pasta is well coated in the dressing. Add another teaspoon of the dressing to the crumbled feta cheese and mix in to allow the cheese to absorb the dressing flavours.
- In a big mixing bowl, combine spinach leaves, cucumber, olives & pumpkin seeds. Add orzo pasta and the rest of the dressing. Mix well until the dressing is well combined. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve. Add salt & pepper, if required.