This light and bright pasta salad combines grilled tomatoes and artichoke hearts with fresh raw arugula and basil for an elegant summer pasta salad. The lemon and olive oil act as a natural and healthy ‘sauce’ for the tiny pasta. This recipe can be served vegan, or you can add chicken, shrimp or beef for a little protein boost. Since the pasta is so delicate and the ingredients are so vivid, this recipe is perfect for a hot summer day or back yard BBQ. Just scoop it into your favorite serving bowl, throw some plastic wrap over the top, and watch your guests ohh and ahh over the simplicity of this delicious lemon orzo salad!
The Benefits of Olive Oil and Lemon:
Lemon’s high amount of vitamin C, folic acid, limonin and other nutrients pack this little yellow fruit with many health benefits. It has been found to aid in complex medical conditions such as kidney stones, cancer, liver disease and weight loss. And olive oil is just as beneficial! One peer reviewed journal that analyzed many studies on extra virgin olive oil and cardiovascular disease found that extra virgin olive oil plays a role as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and vasodilatory nutrient that may contribute to lower the atherosclerotic disease.
(1) Nocella C, Cammisotto V, Fianchini L, et al. Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cardiovascular Diseases: Benefits for Human Health. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2018;18(1):4-13. doi:10.2174/1871530317666171114121533
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Check out this hand painted serving bowl set!
Lemon Orzo Salad
- 7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (1 for grilling, 6 for salad)
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 4 cups orzo (I used multi colored orzo)
- 1.5 pounds fresh tomatoes (I used a small heirloom mix) cut in half (can use canned if fresh unavailable, but will change the flavor)
- 2 12 oz jars of artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
- 2 grilled or baked seasoned chicken breasts, cut into cubes (optional)
- zest of one lemon (make sure to clean lemon before zesting)
- 1 handful of arugula
- Fill a large stock pot with enough water to cook 4 cups of orzo. Salt generously and bring to a boil. Add in orzo, and cook until done according to package. (usually around 15 minutes).
- While orzo is cooking, heat a grill pan or saute pan over high heat. Once hot, add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Place halved artichoke hearts flat side down on grill pan and grill until slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
- Now grill your tomatoes: add halved tomatoes to grill pan and grill until very hot, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
- Drain the orzo and transfer to same bowl as tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Toss with 6 TBSP of olive oil and 1/2 cup of lemon juice.
- Now add your arugula, basil and lemon zest. Add cooked chicken if adding a protein. Stir to combine. Taste pasta and add salt/pepper/lemon juice to taste (I did not add any salt or pepper, but that is my own taste).
- This lemon pasta salad can be served immediately, or can be refrigerated for 2-3 days in a Tupperware or a bowl with plastic wrap over the top. Enjoy!
- If you are not vegan or vegetarian, seasoned grilled chicken goes great with this dish. I seasoned my chicken with a lemon pepper seasoning that went perfectly with the lemon of the pasta salad.
- You may choose to add more/less olive oil or lemon; that is fine!!! It will depend on your taste and the specific orzo you purchase, as some orzo’s are more robust than others. I recommend adding a little at a time and taste testing until desired flavor is reached.
Did you like my ‘Lemon Orzo Salad’ recipe? If so, go check out my ‘Red, White and Blue Egg Bites‘ recipe!