Mediterranean Shrimp Orzo Salad
Mediterranean shrimp orzo salad is fresh and easy to make for boxed lunches or light dinners. It’s ultra-simple — the vinaigrette doubles as the marinade for the shrimp. Toss the orzo, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, and everything else, and serve warm or cold!
I’m getting all the Mediterranean vibes from this one!
Shrimp orzo salad is made with all the best summer ingredients. It starts with a simple vinaigrette that happens to double up as the marinade for the shrimp. And while the shrimp is marinating, you cook up orzo pasta. Toss it with freshly sliced cucumbers, ripe cherry tomatoes, briny feta cheese, fresh dill weed, and those delicious cooked shrimp. It’s got all the elements of a good pasta salad: color, flavor, and crunch!
And it’s true, shrimp orzo salad is great to prep for the week and enjoy brown bag lunches or to take to a picnic. Best of all, it doesn’t take very long to make, and it’s sure to be a hit at your BBQ cookout, church potlucks, and pretty much any event from the beginning of spring all the way to the last day of summer!
Ingredients for shrimp orzo salad:
- Olive oil + vinegar: You’ll need good quality olive oil to make the dressing/marinade for this salad. We’re also using red wine vinegar in the vinaigrette.
- Lemons: fresh lemon juice and lemon zest help flavor the dressing. They add brightness and work well with the shrimp.
- Sauces: You’ll need a squeeze of honey to balance all the acidic flavors as well as a squirt of dijon mustard. The mustard acts as a emulsifier in this recipe and helps keep the vinaigrette from separating.
- Herbs + seasonings: You’ll need kosher salt, dried oregano, and a few cloves of grated garlic. These are used to flavor the vinaigrette. You’ll also need fresh dill weed to add to the salad. The dill pairs beautifully with the shrimp here!
- Orzo Pasta: Dry orzo pasta cooked just a hair under package directions if what we’re after.
- Shrimp: You can use any size shrimp that you like. I usually buy large shrimp, cook and then chop them up. If you’re using frozen shrimp, I highly suggest allowing them to defrost and draining in a sieve. Then pat dry before marinating. Frozen shrimp are sometimes water-logged and it can be difficult to achieve a nice sear on them.
- Veggies: I use fresh scallions, cherry tomatoes, and Persian cucumbers. You could swap the cucumbers for steamed asparagus here as well – that would be delicious as a warm salad!
- Feta Cheese: crumbled, briny feta adds the best flavor to this salad. I prefer to buy feta in blocks and crumble it myself, however, crumbled feta will also work for this recipe.
How to make the best shrimp orzo salad recipe:
- Make the dressing. Start by adding all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar and give it a good couple shakes until the dressing combines.
- Marinate the shrimp. Add a couple tablespoons of the prepared dressing to a bowl with the shrimp. Toss and allow the shrimp to sit for a few minutes. Then heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the shrimp all the way through. I like to remove them to a plate and once cooled, just give them a rough chop so that you can get a little piece in every bite!
- Boil the pasta. Boil the pasta as you normally do, just be sure to cook the pasta a minute less than what’s stated on the package. This is so the pasta doesn’t become overcooked by the time we toss it all together.
- Toss the salad. When the pasta is done, drain and add it to a large bowl, immediately add the dressing to the salad and allow the pasta to soak up all the dressing. Once the pasta it room temperature, add the shrimp, tomatoes, cucumbers, dill, scallions, and feta cheese and just toss it all together. Taste and adjust with salt if it needs it.
FAQs about shrimp orzo salad:
What temperature do you suggest serving this salad?
I’ve served it both cold and room temperature and loved it both ways! If you don’t mind the cucumbers mingling with a warm salad, you could also serve it warm!
Can I use a different shape of pasta for this recipe?
Yes, any other small shape of pasta would work here.
Can I make this with chicken instead?
I tested the recipe with chicken as well. It works just fine! I do, however, suggest marinating the chicken for at least 30 minutes to achieve good flavor. I also prefer to cut the chicken back to 12 ounces.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Tomato Basil and Feta Orzo Salad
- Roasted Corn Chicken Orzo Salad
- Mediterranean Tuna Orzo Summer Salad
- Garlicky Orzo Shrimp Scampi with Asparagus
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons EACH: red wine vinegar AND fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons zest
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon EACH: kosher salt AND dried oregano
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 8 ounces dry orzo
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled + deveined
- 1 ¼ cups cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup cucumbers, chopped or sliced
- ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- DRESSING: Add a big pinch of the dill from the salad to a mason jar. Add all the remaining ingredients listed for the dressing, cap the jar and shake until the dressing is combined.
- PASTA: Bring a medium pot of water to boiling. Salt the water and cook the pasta 1 minute less than package directions. Drain pasta and set aside. Prepare the shrimp while the water for the pasta is boiling.
- SHRIMP: Add 2 tablespoons of the prepared dressing to the shrimp, toss, and let sit for 5 minutes. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the shrimp (cook in batches if they don’t all fit) and cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping halfway until opaque and cooked through.
- SALAD: Add the cooked pasta to a large bowl, toss with the dressing and let sit 5 minutes (I usually just pop it the freezer or 20 minutes in the fridge) add the cooked shrimp, tomatoes, cucumbers, dill, scallions, feta, and toss until combined. Taste and adjust with seasonings as desired. You can serve this salad hot or cold!