Lemon Orzo Summer Salad

No longer ask “what can I bring?” Just let them know you and your orzo will be there.

Summer is the time to be social and it’s always good to have a go-to dish to bring that everyone will love. This is a great and refreshing salad to keep in the refrigerator all summer long to enjoy at home or bring to any summer gathering. It is also an easy one to make at the lake or beach! So go ahead and buy way too many veggies at the local produce stand (like I do) and worry no more about how to use them all. This salad is an excellent way to ensure that nothing goes to waste!

Use my recipe as a guide and add any vegetables you love to make it your own. This will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a week. As the week goes on, I add to it – in fact, I cooked a few extra ears of corn a few days after making it and sliced it straight into the salad. Delicious!

I used: zucchini, tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, fresh basil, Castelvetrano olives, kalamata olives, and orzo. I seasoned simply with salt and pepper. Dressing is simple too – lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil.

Other additions: fresh corn off the cob grilled or cooked, feta, garbanzo beans, red onion, Vidalia onion, green/red/orange peppers.

Serve it with grilled chicken for a perfect summer meal. I invited my friend Vicki over for dinner and she brought chicken in a very tasty lemony garlicky marinade. We threw it on the grill and it paired perfectly with this salad!

Here is the recipe for the salad and marinade:

Lemon Orzo Salad:

4 cups cooked orzo

½ cup lemon juice – about 3 large fresh lemons juiced

¼ cup olive oil

Zest of 2 lemons

½ teaspoon of salt                                           

¼ teaspoon of pepper

1 sliced zucchini

1 sliced cucumber

1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes

2 chopped bell peppers – I like red, yellow and orange

¼ cup fresh basil – I chop about 8-10 leaves into the salad

Cook the orzo. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside. Chop and slice the veggies and basil. Once orzo is done transfer to a bowl and pour the lemon dressing over it and stir. Add in all the veggies. If the orzo seems dry add about ¼ cup of water – or squeeze more lemon juice into it. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm or cold. If serving a day or two after making it, squeeze a little more lemon juice in there. Orzo soaks it up!

Vicki’s Grilled Chicken Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice – 2-3 large lemons

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon of oregano – just throw in a palm full

4 cloves crushed garlic – or a bunch more – whatever you want

Whisk all together. This marinade is great for chicken breasts or kabobs. Vicki will season for an hour or overnight for that good deep flavor.

Happy Summer! Or Fall! You know what? This would be fantastic for a football tailgate. Make sure to save this recipe. Let me know if you love it.