Bowl of lemon and orzo salad with fresh herbs in the background.
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Lemon and Herb Orzo Salad With Roasted Zucchini

This Lemon and Herb Orzo Salad With Roasted Zucchini is full of refreshing flavors like lemon, dill, basil, and parsley. Perfect for summer dinners or potlucks!
Course Side Dish
Keyword easy, healthy
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Author Dana Sandonato

Ingredients

Orzo.

  • 8 oz orzo

Roasted Zucchini.

  • 2 small - medium zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Lemon and Herb Dressing.

  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 TBSP fresh chopped dill
  • 1 TBSP fresh chopped basil
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper

Orzo Salad.

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 4 oz crumbled feta
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts *See notes
  • Some extra chopped fresh herbs, for garnish

Instructions

Roasted Zucchini.

  • Preheat oven to 425º F.
    Place diced zucchini into a large bowl. Drizzle with 1/2 TBSP of olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then spread the zucchini over a baking sheet. Bake until tender—about 8-10 minutes. Once the zucchini is done, remove it from the oven and set aside.

Orzo.

  • Cook the orzo as per the directions on the package (no longer than al dente). When it's ready, drain the orzo and run it under cool water, tossing it lightly with your fingers to get that starchiness out. Give the orzo a good shake in the strainer to remove excess water, and transfer the orzo to a large serving bowl; set aside.

Lemon and Herb Dressing.

  • Zest your lemons before juicing them, and transfer the zest to a blender. Add the lemon juice followed by all of the other ingredients for the dressing to the blender. Blend until all of the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and pureed into a dressing. Give it a taste test and season further if needed.
  • Drizzle half of the dressing over the orzo and toss to coat. Give it a taste. If you think it needs more, drizzle a little bit more dressing over the orzo until you're satisfied with the flavor. Save any extra dressing in a sealed container for future use. (You can drizzle it over any leftovers to revive the salad after it being refrigerated.)
  • Finally, toss the roasted zucchini in with the orzo, followed by 1/2 cup chopped red onion, 4 oz of crumbled feta, 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, and some extra chopped fresh herbs. Give everything a toss and serve, or place it in the fridge until serving time.
  • The salad and any leftover dressing will last in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Notes

To toast the pine nuts, dump them into a dry pan and place over medium-low heat. Shake the pan often to prevent burning, and let the nuts heat up until they're golden brown and aromatic. This should only take about 5 minutes.
If you don't want to splurge on pine nuts (they tend to be on the pricier side), feel free to use chopped walnuts or slivered almonds. You can toast the the same way as noted above.
*Cook time is noted as 20 minutes, but it you cook the zucchini and the orzo at the same time, it should be less.
*If you're vegetarian and don't eat cheeses made with animal rennet, omit the feta or find a feta that is veg friendly.