When you’re packing a picnic, the last thing you want to take along is something that needs refrigeration or to be microwaved before you enjoy it. Pasta salads are a perfect choice because you can easily vary the ingredients to suit your tastes, and serve them at room temperature—and orzo is a nice change of pace from the usual bow ties and shells. Ideal for an impromptu gathering, make a double batch of pasta salad and you can vary the add-ins (meat, cheese, vegetables) and have a delicious base for a meal all week long, that’s just as good eaten al fresco as inside your cubicle for a quick, healthy lunch.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Work It, Mom!

A Mediterranean take on pasta salad, this orzo is cooked in chicken broth for added flavor and is seasoned with fresh basil and parsley. Add chopped onion, garlic, and tomatoes and you have a perfect Greek pasta salad. Get the recipe.

Celery and Olive Orzo Salad

Celery and Olive Orzo Salad

Chowhound

Crunchy celery, briny olives, and fresh herbs make this a lively choice for a picnic, or for a weeknight dinner. Get our Celery and Olive Orzo Salad recipe.

Mediterranean Tuna Orzo Salad

Mediterranean Tuna Orzo Salad

Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Another Mediterranean take on pasta salad, this one adds oil-packed Italian tuna, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, and olives, all in a lemony oregano and garlic dressing. Get the recipe.

Tri-Colore Orzo

Tri-Colore Orzo

Food Network

The tri-colore in this orzo recipe comes not from the pasta but from the green arugula and basil, the red cherry tomatoes, and the white crumbled ricotta salata. Be sure to let the pasta cool before mixing or the cheese will melt. Get the recipe.

Out of This World Orzo Salad

Out of This World Orzo Salad

Panning the Globe

A full head of chopped radicchio is the base for this salad, with toasted pine nuts, Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, basil, and parmesan. You can substitute whatever fresh herbs you have in the garden and don’t skimp on the garlic. The orzo salad is best served at room temperature and the flavors meld beautifully in the refrigerator if kept overnight. Get the recipe.

Spinach and Orzo Salad

Spinach and Orzo Salad

Aggie’s Kitchen

More salad than orzo, this combination of baby spinach, dried cranberries, almonds, blue cheese, and spices is a refreshing take on pasta salad. Packed with greens and easy to toss in a Tupperware, this is an ideal picnic addition. Get the recipe.

Lemony Orzo Pasta Salad

Lemony Orzo Pasta Salad with Bacon and Tomatoes

Two of a Kind Cooks

Crispy bacon pieces and a dressing made of lemon juice, olive oil, and a touch of honey for sweetness really pairs well with the salty Kalamata olives. Top with fresh parsley and you’ve got a great pasta salad recipe that walks the savory/sweet line with ease. Get the recipe.

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Cucumbers, Lemon and Dill

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Cucumbers, Lemon and Dill

Two Peas and Their Pod

Chickpeas and a tangy dressing differentiate this recipe from the pack. Fresh dill, chopped red onion, feta, cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil are tossed together for a healthy side dish. The quantities are easy to scale up in this recipe so it’s a great choice to cook for a crowd. Get the recipe.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

Hungry Hannah

Ina Garten’s adaptation includes a fantastic dressing made of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper that you combine with roasted eggplant, bell peppers, garlic, and red onion. This keeps for days in the fridge and is a great accompaniment to grilled meat or vegetable kebabs. Get the recipe.

Lemon Orzo Pasta with Brussels Sprouts

Lemon Orzo Pasta with Brussels Sprouts

Love & Light Kitchen

It’s rare that you find a recipe that tastes even better the next day, but this lemon orzo pasta with Brussels sprouts is a great recipe to make the night before. Get the recipe.

Orzo Salad with Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

Orzo Salad with Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

Chowhound

This is a fast side dish you can make with a can of artichokes, any fresh herbs, and some staple items you already have in your pantry. Garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt make a simple vinaigrette and feel free to add in some artichokes, feta cheese, or olives. Get our Orzo Salad with Tomatoes and Pine Nuts recipe.

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Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC’s best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.
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