Lemon Garlic Orzo Salad

By Lauryn Gladd

Servings: 4-5

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Looking for a new winter dish? This lemon garlic orzo salad is the perfect warm meal to serve to your family and friends. I was inspired by a dish I often ordered my first year during finals from a food delivery service, Good Uncle, as they make a really delicious rendition of Greek orzo pasta salad. But, below, I simply recrafted the fresh salad into a more heartier and flavorful dish to fit the winter aesthetic. One of the reasons why I love this dish so much is because of the pasta itself; there is something about the shape of orzo that just makes it so fun to eat! The ingredients in this dish also provide a variety of health benefits. Zucchini is rich in vitamin A, which may support your vision and immune system; this summer squash is also abundant in antioxidants, which help protect your body from free radicals (Petre, 2019). Moreover, zucchini is also rich in water and fiber, both of which promote healthy digestion (Petre, 2019). Whole grains – such as whole wheat orzo – contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals, which work to lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and obesity (Jennings, 2019). Lastly, spinach not only adds great texture to the dish but the iron-abundant leafy green is known to “to decrease oxidative stress, improve eye health” as well as help to stop “heart disease and cancer” (Gunnars, 2019).  

Ingredients:

Orzo salad:

  • 340 g whole wheat orzo
  • ½ white onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 5 cremini mushrooms
  • 1-2 handfuls spinach

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flames
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Optional for serving:

  • Arugula or other greens
  • Cooked chicken or other protein
  • Feta cheese

Instructions:

  1. First, thoroughly wash all the vegetables. 
  2. Dice the onion, zucchini, and mushroom into smaller pieces. 
  3. Add the onion and garlic to a large pan with the olive oil and cook on low heat for about 4 minutes. 
  4. Cook the orzo in a pot of boiling water, as according to your package instructions (usually it takes about 8 minutes once boiling). 
  5. Once the garlic and onion look slightly charred, add the zucchini to the pan and sauté for 6 minutes on low-medium heat. 
  6. Add the mushrooms to the pan and allow to cook for another 4 minutes. 
  7. Add spinach to the pan and for roughly 3 minutes stir, combining the vegetables in the pan together. 
  8. Once the orzo has cooked, drain and rinse the pasta. 
  9. Use a blender to combine and emulsify the above dressing ingredients. 
  10. In a large bowl, toss orzo with the vegetables and dressing
  11. Serve orzo salad over your choice of greens (I recommend arugula) and add any extra toppings of your choice – I used feta. 
  12. Enjoy!

Reference list

Gunnars, K. (2019, May 14). Spinach 101: Nutrition Facts and health benefits. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/spinach 

Jennings, K.-A. (2019, April 26). 9 health benefits of eating whole grains. Healthline. Retrieved December 18, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-benefits-of-whole-grains#TOC_TITLE_HDR_10 

Petre, A. (2019, February 19). 12 health and nutrition benefits of Zucchini. Healthline. Retrieved December 18, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/zucchini-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2 

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