Ahh pasta salad. My ultimate go-to broke college kid meal. A package of noodles, some Italian salad dressing, cheese, some shrimp or chicken was considered gourmet back in those days. These days, cutting out animal products and heavily processed foods means that I’ve had to come up with a totally new way to get my pasta salad fix. Since it’s always a family barbecue staple, this Memorial Day weekend had me craving a good pasta salad more than usual.
Since it’s early summer, my mom’s garden is growing like crazy, so I’ve always got buckets full of fresh homegrown whatevers. This week it happened to be cucumbers and tomatoes. I don’t know about yall, but simple sliced tomatoes and cucs with some salt and pepper has always been a favorite go-to snack of mine. I decided to go that route with this recipe and just dress it up a bit.
One of my all time favorite salad dressings is a simple 50/50 mix of olive oil and red wine vinegar with a touch of oregano and pepper. For this salad, I combined a tiny teaspoon of olive oil (remember that thing about cutting down on processed foods? Refined oils fall under that category, so I try to keep them to a minimum), some red wine vinegar, lemon juice, tons of fresh chopped oregano out of my herb garden, red chili flakes, freshly ground black pepper, and Himalayan pink sea salt.
I decided to go with orzo for two reasons. 1. I had it in my pantry. 2. I hadn’t had any in a while. That’s it! Really any other pasta would also work, especially the “traditional” pasta salad varieties like rotini or bowtie. I’m glad I went with the orzo, though! For some reason, I find that it always pairs really well with lemon, so those two really tied the whole situation together for me.
This recipe filled a medium casserole dish to the brim, so it makes plenty for a family get together or for lunch prep throughout the week.
Hope you guys enjoy!
Summer Orzo Pasta Salad
Summery, light pasta salad with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs.
- 1 cucumber diced
- 2 roma tomatoes diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 4-6 sprigs fresh oregano stems removed, chopped
- 1.5 cup orzo cooked
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 lemon juice from
- 1 tsp pink salt
- 1 tbsp black pepper freshly ground
- 2 tsp crushed red pepper more or less to taste
Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain and set aside to cool.
Wash all produce. Dice cucumber and tomatoes. Finely chop garlic and fresh oregano.
In a large bowl, combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, garlic, and oregano.
Add cooked orzo, diced tomato, and cucumber and stir well to combine. Add more salt, pepper, or crushed red pepper to taste.
Chill before serving.