Pictured: Celery and Olive Orzo Salad recipe from CHOW
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 (made with orzo) are a perfect choice because you can easily vary the ingredients and serve at room temperature. 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.
1. Mediterranean Pasta Salad
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 here.
2. Tri-Colore Orzo Recipe
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 here.
3. Out of This World Orzo Salad
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 here.
4. Spinach and Orzo Salad
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 here.
5. Lemony Orzo Pasta Salad
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 here.
6. Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Cucumbers, Lemon and Dill
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 here.
7. Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
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 here.
8. Lemon Orzo Pasta with Brussels Sprouts
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. Garlic, red pepper, white wine, lemon juice, and capers are sautéed together and make a luscious sauce for the orzo. Get the recipe here.
9. Orzo with Artichokes and Tomatoes
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 feta cheese or olives. Get the recipe here.
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.