Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Recipe for Whole Wheat Orzo and Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta, Olives, and Herbs

So far, this Whole Wheat Orzo Salad is my favorite new salad recipe this summer!

I'm becoming just a little infatuated with whole wheat orzo.  I first tried it last year in a very tasty salad with tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and feta, and I've already made the salad featured in this post three times and gobbled it up each time.  If you're not familiar with orzo, it's a tiny pasta shaped similar to rice but slightly bigger.   It's often used in soups and pilafs, but it's also a perfect pasta salad ingredient because it letts the pasta take a supporting role and puts the spotlight on the other ingredients.  Orzo is made with wheat, but for a gluten-free alternative I think brown rice would also be great in any salad that uses orzo.

I loved orzo long before knew about the South Beach Diet, but I only discovered whole wheat orzo last year.  In Salt Lake I can find both DeLallo Organic Whole Wheat Orzo and Rice Select Whole Wheat Orzo at Whole Foods.  If any readers have seen whole wheat orzo in other stores, let us know in the comments where you've found it.

Cook the orzo until it's barely al dente (follow package directions for cooking time) and then drain and let cool.

Cut the zucchini and red bell peppers into fourths and brush with olive oil and Italian seasoning.  (I used Penzeys Pasta Sprinkle, which has sweet basil, Turkish oregano, thyme, and garlic.)

Grill the vegetables on high until they are cooked, but still slightly crisp, about 10-15 minutes.  Turn several times to get lots of grill marks.  Let vegetables cool for a few minutes.

Slice the green onions and chop the herbs.  (I used a combination or oregano and basil and increased the amount of herbs.)

Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon, and dried oregano to make the dressing.

When the vegetables are cool, you should be able to pull the skins right off the red bell peppers (the skins are on the right.)  Cut peppers and zucchini into bite-sized pieces.

Put the zucchini and peppers into a bowl large enough to hold all the salad, add about 1/3 of the dressing, and stir so the vegetables are all coated with dressing.

Let the vegetables marinate in the dressing while you slice the olives in half and crumble the Feta.

Stir in the orzo, green onions, and herbs and add just enough dressing to moisten the salad. 

Then gently stir in the olives and crumbled feta.  Season salad to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve room temperature or slightly chilled.

Whole Wheat Orzo and Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta, Olives, and Herbs
(Makes about 6 servings, adapted from a recipe by Pamela Anderson for Fine Cooking.)

1 cup whole wheat orzo, cooked according to package directions
2 small zucchini
1 large red bell pepper
olive oil, for brushing vegetables
Italian seasoning or other dried herb seasoning (I used Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 T chopped fresh basil
2 T chopped fresh oregano
(or use 4 T chopped fresh herbs of your choice such as parsley, mint, thyme, or chives)
1 can  black olives, drained and cut in half  (6 oz. drained)
1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Preheat grill to high.  Cook orzo according to package directions, being careful not to overcook.  Drain and let cool while you prep other ingredients.

Cut the zucchini and red bell pepper lengthwise into fourths and remove seeds and stem from pepper.  Brush the vegetables on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with dried herb mix.  Turn the grill down to medium-high, then grill vegetables until they are cooked, but still slightly crisp, about 10-15 minutes.  I turned them several times so I had grill marks on all the sides.  Remove vegetables and let them cool.

Thinly slice green onions and chop fresh herbs.  Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon, and dried oregano to make the dressing.  

When vegetables are cool enough to handle easily, pull the skins off red peppers.  (They should come off fairly easily, but no worries if some of the skin stays on.  You can put the peppers in a bowl and cover it with cling-wrap to "steam" them if you want to be sure you get all the skin off, but I didn't have any trouble removing it without doing that.)  Cut the zucchini and pepper into bite-sized pieces and put into a plastic bowl large enough to hold all the salad ingredients.  Add about 1/3 of dressing and stir so all the vegetable pieces are coated with dressing.  

Let the vegetables marinate while you drain olives, cut them into half, and crumble the feta.  Add the cooked orzo, green onions, and herbs to the vegetables and add enough dressing to moisten all ingredients.  (You may not need all the dressing.)  Gently stir in the olives and crumbled feta.  

Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.  This salad will stay good in the fridge for several days, but only if you're able to stop eating it!

South Beach Suggestions:
This salad is loaded with low-glycemic ingredients, but to make it more suitable for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet I used whole wheat orzo and slightly decreased the amount of pasta in proportion to the other ingredients.  This recipe isn't particularly low in fat, but other than the Feta cheese, it is what is considered to be "good fat" for the South Beach Diet.

More Salads You Could Make with Whole Wheat Orzo:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Whole Wheat Orzo Salad with Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Feta, and Herb Vinaigrette from Kalyn's Kitchen
Cherry Tomato Orzo Salad from Simply Recipes
Cold Curried Orzo Salad from The Perfect Pantry
Greek Orzo Salad from My Baking Addiction
Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, and Feta from Two Peas and Their Pod
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) counter customizable free hit
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!


  1. Whole wheat orzo is the only whole wheat pasta that I like. This salad sounds perfect!

  2. I love everything in this salad and since its healthy it sounds even better! Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. I have to get to Whole Foods for some whole wheat orzo. I never see it in my regular grocery store. There's not a single thing in this salad that I don't love, and I've got a bumper crop of oregano in the herb garden this year.

  4. Pam, I do love the whole wheat orzo, but I've also got to get you try my favorite whole wheat spaghetti. Those are the only two whole wheat pastas I'm very excited about.

    Lydia, I think I like this better with the whole wheat orzo than I would with regular orzo; so good! Worth a trip to Whole Foods.

  5. Kalyn, this sounds wonderful! I think it will be on the menu this weekend. Is there a reason that you used black olives as opposed to Kalamata olives?

  6. Gary, I think Kalamata olives would be great; I was making it for a few people who I thought might not like Kalamatas, which is the only reason I used regular olives.

  7. I have never seen whole wheat orzo. But I've never looked for it so perhaps it is available here. This is a beautiful salad Kalyn.

  8. Thanks Barbara. I'd be curious to know if you see it there; it's definitely hard to find here, but worth looking for!

  9. A great salad as a meal, Kalyn. I love all those ingredients you used--soo Mediterranean.

  10. Nisrine, so many of my favorite ingredients!

  11. This is EXACTLY the kind of salad that I love to bring to barbecues and such! Or just sit around eating for dinner every night. Love all those grilled veggies!

  12. Joanne, to me this is the perfect summer food. It's a great side dish, but I could happily make a meal of it.

  13. I'm such a sucker for Greek inspired flavors, I can't NOT try this.

    I shalt veganize it and gobble the hell out of it. Thanks, it looks so yummy!

  14. I am making this salad for my vegetarian husband today! This looks amazing,Kalyn!

  15. Izzy, there are so many flavors that I think the cheese is completely optional.

    Erica, thanks. Just loved it around here.

  16. Havent see whole wheat orzo but i will be looking next visit to whole foods. love the mediterranean flavors you have put together here.

  17. Thanks Susie. My favorite flavors by far!

  18. What a perfect summer salad, Kalyn. And a great potluck dish too! Saving it now...

  19. Thanks Christine! I can tell I will make this over and over!

  20. Let's try this again! I get DeLallo's whole wheat pasta at Henry's which is a local chain that's been in San Diego for quite a few years. Sort of a mini Whole Foods :) Love this salad -- the ingredients are some of my favorite, although I don't think I've grilled them before. I need to try that. Looks so good right now. Pretty warm here today, so cooking isn't high on my agenda.

  21. I call this a non-salad salad and that's the kind I love! I've not tried whole wheat orzo but I sure like whole wheat pasta, so I know I'll like the orzo. Your salad is chock full of good things and I'm really anxious to try it!

  22. Kelly that sounds like a great store! It's not super hot here but surprisingly muggy.

    Barbara, I did love it, especially with the grilled vegetables.

  23. I can't wait to try this! I made your other orzo pasta salad so much last summer, I couldn't get enough of it.

    I had difficulty finding the whole wheat orzo at my Whole Foods last year (I'm in NC) but see it regularly there now. When I was having trouble locating it I did find it on Amazon: RiceSelect Orzo Whole Wheat Pasta, 32-Ounce Jars (Pack of 4)

    This might be an option for people who can't find it locally. It comes in a 4-pk so you'll have a lot of orzo but it's oh so yummy!

  24. Melody, glad you enjoyed the other orzo salad. I'd have a hard time deciding which one I liked best. And thanks for the link for Amazon, helpful for people who can't find it.

  25. I just ran across whole wheat orzo at Henry's and was super excited! This looks yummy! Off recipe, but on whole wheat pasta topic, I also just found whole wheat lasagna noodles at Vons of all places.

  26. Mollie, I am just loving the whole wheat orzo; hope you enjoy it. If you find a good brand of whole wheat lasagna would love to know what it is.

  27. Hey Kalyn,

    I'm making this next week and am so excited! I was making my grocery list and reading the ingredients, and it seems you have olives listed twice. I think it's a typo, but I just wanted to make sure.

    I'm looking forward to trying this deliciousness!

  28. Dorothy, thanks so much for catching that. I get so mad at myself when I make mistakes! Am fixing it now.

  29. Made this for tonight's dinner, I didn't have orzo, so I used cooked rice. It was delicious, thanks!

  30. So glad you liked it, and I'm sure rice would be great in it.

  31. I'm making it tonight for the 2nd time this week and this time I am adding roasted asparagus with it. It is so so so good! I leave out the feta because I am vegan, but omg this is the best recipe!

  32. Found organic whole wheat orzo at Kroger!

  33. Janelle, thanks for sharing; I'm going to look at my Kroger store!

  34. This was DELICIOUS!!! Though for some reason, mine was way more pasta heavy than the picture suggests. Next time, I think I'll add an extra bell pepper or two, and maybe some asparagus.

  35. Glad you liked it, and more vegetables would always be good!


I'm so happy you're taking the time to comment on Kalyn's Kitchen! I love hearing from people who stop by, especially if you're sharing feedback or asking questions about a recipe I've posted here.

I've recently changed my comment settings so people can comment without signing in, but you will need to check the box to show you're a live person, and comments on older posts won't show up until I publish them. Thanks for understanding!

Blogging tips