Support Your Brain Health – Get Your Copy of My Book,“MIND Diet For Two”

Lemon Orzo Feta Salad – A Greek-Inspired Summer Salad

Published on: April 25, 2024
A white bowl filled with Lemon Orzo Feta Salad on a bed of arugula. It is sitting on a green cloth napkin with a pitcher of lemon water in the background.

Fresh and bright – that is how I would describe this lemon orzo feta salad. It is the perfect mix of fresh spring and summer herbs and the brightness of fresh lemon juice that seeps into the orzo pasta and intensifies over time. Add in fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and kalamata olives and you have a delicious, Greek-inspired orzo salad. 

This recipe is easy to make and best if made a day ahead so the flavors have time to blend and meld together. Take this to your next cookout or make a batch to enjoy for lunch or as a side salad dish with dinner. 

What You Will Need to Make It

You may have most of these ingredients on hand with a few exceptions. I always have kalamata olives, lemons, tomatoes, red onions, and a selection of pasta because I use them in salads and other dishes throughout the week. And I usually have some feta cheese in the fridge, but if not, just pick up a block the next time you are at the grocery store. 

Here’s a photo with the ingredients you’ll need and a few notes below. 

Ingredients to make a lemon orzo feta salad on a white marble counter top.
Ingredients for Lemon Orzo Feta Salad


This little oval-shaped pasta is really the best for this dish. The small shape soaks up the lemon dressing and the pasta doesn’t overpower the dish like other pasta salads. If you don’t have orzo, another smaller pasta like small shells (conchiglie) or cavatelli might work. 

Feta Cheese

Traditional feta cheese comes from 100% sheep’s milk or a blend of goat and sheep’s milk. Personally, I like the flavor of these better than those made with cow’s milk, but you can use any feta you have. I also prefer to use block cheese instead of crumbled. I can cut it into uniform pieces and think it has a better flavor and lasts longer.


Grape tomatoes are my preference because they normally have a better flavor than any other tomato in the grocery store. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, by all means, use your fresh garden tomatoes instead and know that I am jealous 🙂


English or small Persian cucumbers work best. The skin is nice and tender, they are slightly sweet and don’t have the bitter flavor that the larger cucumbers can have. 

Red Onions

Sweet or yellow onions would also work in this, but the color and flavor of red onions are so much better. You’ll love their little bite – but remember to soak them for at least 10 minutes before adding them to the salad. A little bite is fine, but soaking them mellows them.


You’ll use the zest of the lemon plus the juice from them too. 2 lemons is about enough and I had enough juice left over for my afternoon tea. 

Mint and Parsley

Use fresh herbs if at all possible in this. You’ll get so much more flavor out of them. But if you can’t find them, dry will work. Just remember, you’ll need about ⅓ of the amount of the fresh. 

How to Make the Orzo Salad

This lemon orzo feta salad comes together in about 15 minutes and while you can enjoy it right away, it is best if it is chilled for at least a few hours before serving. This just gives the lemon and flavors from the fresh herbs to sink in and blend (or marinate) with the orzo. 

Here’s how to make this yummy salad:

Step 1: Cook the Orzo

Boil water, and add a bit of salt. (See FAQs below on why I add salt to my pasta water.) If you want an extra boost of flavor I’ll sometimes add lemon juice to the water, or vegetable or chicken broth. 

Let it cook until it is al dente, drain it, and toss it with a little EVOO to keep it from sticking. Set it aside to let it cool.

Step 2: Prep the Vegetables and Cheese

While the orzo is cooking and cooling, dice the tomatoes and cucumbers and slice the onions. Slice the kalamata olives if needed and dice the feta cheese. 

A message bubble that says "quick tip" with a light bulb next to it

Soak the sliced red onions in cool water for at least 10 minutes before adding them to the salad. This will mellow out the flavor and tone down the “bite”. 

Step 3: Zest and Juice the Lemon and Prep the Herbs

Zest the lemon right before using it so that all those beautiful essential oils from the skin of the lemon stay fresh and you get the max flavor! 

Juice the lemons and chop the herbs. 

Step 4: Mix the Salad

This is the easy part – Add all the veggies, cheese, lemon zest, juice, and herbs to the orzo and mix it well to blend all those beautiful flavors.  Place the bowl in the fridge to chill. It will be best if chilled for at least 4 hours but is ready to eat right away if you prefer.

Serve it over a bed of arugula, baby spinach, or mixed salad greens.


I mentioned different types of pasta earlier. You can use another small pasta shape if you don’t have or can’t find orzo. Smaller, delicate kinds of pasta will work the best in this dish.

The veggies in this are the types you’d find in other Greek salads and work well with the lemon flavor, but you could certainly add some chopped artichokes or spring greens to this. 

If you don’t have fresh herbs, dried will work, just use ⅓ the amount. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should you add salt to the pasta water?

Yes, you do need some salt in the water as it is cooking. Salt adds flavor to the pasta and according to my favorite food scientist, Harold Magee, it also holds the starch in the pasta and lessens its stickiness. 

How much salt do you add to pasta water?

It depends on the type of salt. Table salt and fine sea salt use about 1 tablespoon per 4 quarts of water. I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt which has a larger crystal and less sodium, so you need about double the amount. America’s Test Kitchen (another great source) recommends using 2 tablespoons of this kosher salt per 4 quarts of water.

For this recipe, I use ½ tablespoon of kosher salt in 4 cups of water. 

Should you salt your pasta water if you are watching your salt intake?

The pasta does absorb the sodium from the water so it would contribute to your sodium intake. If you are watching your sodium intake, By all means, you can cut down the amount of salt or eliminate it. You may not want to cook the pasta as long and definitely toss it immediately with some EVOO to keep it from clumping together. Add some extra lemon juice to the salad to make up for some of the lost flavor.

Storage Tips

This salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days. Store it in a bowl with a tight lid or in a reusable container. 

Other Recipes You Will Love

If you enjoy this lemon orzo feta salad, here are a few others you might want to try:

Watercress and Pear Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Italian Bean Salad

Simple Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad

If you want more recipe ideas, please join my community! You’ll receive a monthly email with nutrition information and new recipe ideas. Click here and I’ll send you a free Mediterranean Diet Pantry List.

Now to the recipe!

A white bowl filled with Lemon Orzo Feta Salad on a bed of arugula. It is sitting on a green cloth napkin with a pitcher of lemon water in the background.

Lemon Orzo Feta Salad

This Greek-inspired Orzo Salad is a bright and easy recipe, perfect for spring or summer cookouts or casual nights at home.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Cooling Time 4 hours
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 6
Calories 130 kcal



  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup sliced red onion soaked (see note in post)
  • 1 cup diced English cucumbers, unpeeled (about 1/3 of a whole cucumber)
  • ½ cup diced grape tomatoes
  • ¼ cup sliced kalamata olives
  • ½ cup diced feta cheese about 3 oz.
  • 1 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups arugula
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper


  • Cook orzo in boiling, salted water for 8 minutes or according to the package directions. Cook to the al dente stage. Drain it and place it in a large bowl and toss it with the olive oil and 1 tbsp of lemon juice. This will keep it from clumping and will start to build the lemony flavor.
  • Once it has cooled slightly, mix in the onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and cheese and toss together well.
  • Stir in the parsley, mint, lemon zest, and remaining 2 tbsp. of lemon juice. Season with some salt and pepper if needed.
  • Cool for at least 4 hours. Taste it just before serving and add more lemon juice and mint if needed.
  • Serve over a bed of arugula or mixed greens and top with microgreens if desired.


Serving: 1cupCalories: 130kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 4gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 500mgPotassium: 90mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 90mg
Keyword Greek, Lemon, Mediterranean, Pasta
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Laura M. Ali, RD holding a bowl of pomegranate seeds

Hi! I’m Laura!

I love to cook and share simple tricks and tips to make healthy meals taste delicious.

My goal is to create delicious meals that will support your health and give you energy, along with a sprinkling of nutrition and health information to help you enjoy a long and vibrant life!

learn more

This 7 day meal plan gives you full meals that fit the MIND diet. It comes with selected recipes and a shopping list to help you get started on improving your brain health!

download the free guide

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This