Tomato Basil and Feta Orzo Salad
Tomato Basil and Feta Orzo Salad is the perfect quick summer lunch or dinner! Tender orzo pasta tossed in a slightly sweet tomato basil vinaigrette with fresh cherry tomatoes, basil, and crumbled briny feta! A perfect side to grilled meats and veggies!
This is the salad that screams summer to me!
It can be 15º outside or 110º, as it normally is in Texas. But when I’ve got a bowlful of tomato basil and feta orzo salad, I’m living the 85º-and-not-a-cloud-in-the-sky life.
This easy basil and feta orzo salad takes about 30 minutes to make, including a 15-minute hands-off time. We start with juicy, ripe cherry tomatoes, fresh, herby basil, and a salty-sweet vinaigrette that pairs beautifully with a handful of briny feta. If you look at how the tomatoes are prepared (drenched in dressing and left to hang out, so they release their juices a little), it reminds me of the best bruschetta I had in Italy.
It’s a nod to all things Mediterranean, and when you taste this basil and feta orzo salad, I’m confident that you won’t be mad about that!
Ingredients to make Tomato Basil and Feta Orzo Salad:
- Orzo pasta: dried orzo pasta makes this salad so unforgettably delicious. If you have other small-shaped pasta at home, you can certainly replace the orzo with that. I like the texture that orzo provides in this summer salad.
- Olive Oil: Good olive oil is key here. I also like to use a couple of tablespoons of sun-dried tomato olive oil. It’s the stuff that sun-dried tomatoes come packed in, and it’s exploding with flavor! It’s also the secret ingredient in my Mediterranean pasta salad, and it just takes your salad game to 100.
- Fresh Garlic: just a hint of grated or pressed garlic goes into the vinaigrette.
- Honey: the honey provides sweetness to the vinaigrette. It balances out the acid from the vinegar and the salty elements of this salad (mostly the feta.)
- Dried Oregano: dried oregano adds a delicious (almost makes it smell like pizza sauce!)
- Vinegar: I like to use white wine vinegar because it has a mellow taste and isn’t harsh like white vinegar.
- Fresh Tomatoes: I like to use fresh cherry or grape tomatoes for this recipe. You could also use beefsteak or other similar tomatoes and just chop them into small pieces. Keep in mind that you’ll want to remove the seeds if you use larger tomatoes so that the dressing doesn’t become too watery.
- Basil: fresh basil adds a nice flavor punch to this recipe. I suggest about ½ cup, but I often add more in the summer!
- Crumbled Feta: feta cheese gives this salad the briny punch that it needs! We’ve got acid from the vinaigrette, salt from the feta, and sweetness from the honey. It’s the perfect flavor in overbite!
How to make basil and feta orzo salad:
- Make the pasta. Heat a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. You want to salt the pasta water generously because we’ll be rinsing the pasta a little later (so the more salt you add now, the higher the chance that some of it will stick around later.) When the water comes back to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the package’s directions. Drain and rinse the pasta really well. You want to stop the cooking process completely.
- Make the salad. Add the olive oil, sun-dried tomato oil, garlic, honey, dried oregano, vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon of each salt and pepper to a mason jar. Place a lid on top and shake until the dressing comes together. Add the tomatoes to a bowl with basil and toss with ½ of the prepared dressing. Let the tomatoes sit for about 15 minutes. This will help release some of the juice and create a more flavorful dressing.
- Put it all together. Then, add the pasta and toss to combine. Add more dressing to the pasta as needed. I ended up using all of the dressing. Toss with crumbled feta and taste. At this point, you can add additional salt as needed. With the feta added, you really shouldn’t need too much more. Allow the salad to refrigerate for about 30 minutes if you prefer to serve it chilled, or you can serve at room temperature too.
FAQs about tomato basil and feta orzo:
What if I don’t have sun-dried tomatoes on hand?
You can simply use ¼ cup of olive oil and add 1-2 teaspoon of tomato paste to the vinaigrette. The condensed tomato flavor will still be there!
Can I use a different shaped pasta?
You can! You can use farfalle, fusilli, or even campanelle here instead. Keep in mind that the shape of the pasta you use will change the cooking time to its best to follow package directions. Cook the pasta to al dente so it still has some bite when it hits the dressing.
How long to leftovers last?
Since we’re using fresh tomatoes and an acidic dressing, it’s best if the pasta is consumed within 1-2 days of preparation.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Greek Quinoa Salad Jars
- Mediterranean Tuna Orzo Summer Salad
- Marinated Feta Salad
- ½ pound (8-ounces) dried orzo
- 2 tablespoons EACH: olive oil AND sun-dried tomato oil (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons EACH: freshly grated garlic AND honey (plus more to taste)
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons white vine vinegar
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup basil leaves, chopped
- ½ cup crumbled feta
- PASTA: Heat a medium saucepan with water until boiling. Drop a palmful of salt, let it dissolve then add the pasta. Cook the orzo according to package directions. Prepare the dressing while pasta is cooking. When the pasta is done, drain, rinse until the pasta is cooled and set aside for now.
- SALAD: Add the olive oil, sun-dried tomato oil, garlic, honey, oregano, vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper to a mason jar. Place a lid on top and shake until the dressing is combined.
- ASSEMBLE: Add the tomatoes halves, and basil to a large bowl. Toss with ½ the dressing and let sit for 15 minutes. Then add the pasta and toss to combine. Taste and adjust with more dressing as desired, I usually added all the dressing. Add the feta and toss to combine. Refrigerate the salad for 30 minutes to develop more flavor! Serve cold or at room temperature.
- Sun-dried tomato oil: Is the oil that sun-dried tomatoes come packed in! If you don’t happen to have that on hand, just up the olive oil to ¼ cup and add 1-2 teaspoons of tomato paste instead.