When your garden is overflowing with vegetables, this Gluten Free Summer Orzo Pasta Salad is the perfect solution. So fast and easy to make!
With the soaring temperatures we’ve been having recently (like much of the country), I am always looking for simple, delicious, and cool meals to make for The Artist and me for lunch and dinner.
The heirloom tomatoes and zucchini are flourishing now and we’ve been eating them at nearly every meal. I love combining them with pasta and a light vinaigrette for a simple refreshing summer meal. Feel free to use any vegetables that you like or have on hand. What I list in the recipe is simply a recommendation.
If you are like me, you want an easy-to-make one dish meal that everyone can help themselves to if they need a between meal snack or if someone comes home late. Having this on hand in the fridge is a great solution. This can be used as either a vegetarian main course or a side dish to grilled meats hot off the BBQ.
If you don’t feel like making your own vinaigrette from scratch – but it is easy and much tastier – you can use any store bought dressing you and your family likes. Just be sure it is gluten-free, it is amazing where they hide gluten!
Use regular orzo if you don’t need to avoid gluten products, but if you are like us, we love the line of GF pastas from DeLallo (the blue bags). They hold up after cooking and the texture and flavor is good. You can bet The Artist is picky about his pasta and this is his favorite.
If you can’t find DeLallo at stores near you, you can order it online or feel free to use your favorite brand. And you don’t have to limit yourselves to just orzo – any short pasta will work in this salad.
I use chicken stock to cook the pasta to add protein to the finished dish. You can use vegetable stock instead or just use water. If you are using only water, you will have to add about 1 tsp salt to the cooking water for flavoring.
One trick to an easy-to-eat salad is to cut all the vegetables small enough to easily fit on a spoon. This makes it much simpler for your guests and if you have little ones just learning to use their utensils, they will be able to scoop this up much more easily.
Special thanks to Lori Rice of Fake Food Free for sending me this beautiful bowl for photography. She is the sweetest!!
Enjoy this Gluten Free Summer Orzo Pasta Salad all year long using whatever vegetables are in season, but it is especially wonderful as a way to cool down on these hot summer days.
Stay cool my friends!
Did you enjoy this recipe? Let me know in the comments, I love hearing from you!
Key Ingredients for Summer Orzo Pasta Salad:
- Lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, thyme
- Orzo, chicken stock, celery, bell pepper, garlic
- Squash, zucchini, tomatoes, green onion
If you use chicken or vegetable stock to cook the pasta, leave out the salt until you taste the stock and see how salty it is. I usually use about half water/half stock so it doesn’t overwhelm the flavors of the vegetables and pasta.
How to make Summer Orzo Pasta Salad:
- Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tight lid; shake vigorously to combine, then taste and adjust seasoning
- Cook the pasta and drain; transfer to a large bowl and add a little oil, tossing to keep it from sticking together
- Sauté the celery and bell pepper about 2 minutes, add the garlic, squash and zucchini; cook just until squash is barely cooked, then add to the pasta in the bowl
- Add the tomatoes, green onions, thyme and salt and pepper; toss with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette to coat
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed; let salad rest about 30 minutes to absorb most of the vinaigrette
- Serve right away or refrigerate; return to cool room temperature before serving
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Any gluten-free brand of pasta will work here (I like DeLallo brand of orzo in the blue bag), be sure to follow package directions closely. (I am not paid by DeLallo, I just really like their products.) Also, if you are using chicken or vegetable stock to cook the pasta, be sure it is gluten-free!
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp prepared mustard
- Pinch granulated sugar
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 lb gluten free orzo pasta, or regular orzo
- Gluten-free chicken stock, if desired for cooking the pasta, or water
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for tossing the pasta
- 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 clove garlic, thinly sliced, optional
- 2 small yellow squashes, finely chopped
- 2 small zucchinis, finely chopped
- 2 heirloom tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Make the Vinaigrette: Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until it is blended and the dressing has thickened. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. The mustard is an emulsifier and will help keep it from separating as quickly. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to a week.
- Cook the Pasta: Cook the pasta according to package directions. If you want more flavor and protein in your salad, you can use chicken or vegetable stock for half the liquid called for on the package. Add salt if you are not using stock or if the liquid needs it.
- Drain in a colander, transfer to a large bowl, drizzle with a little oil and toss to keep the pasta from sticking together, and set aside.
- Prepare the Salad: In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When it is shimmering, add the celery and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until just slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and both squashes to the pan and toss to coat with the oil. Cook 1 minute to just barely cook the squash.
- Pour the vegetables into the bowl with the pasta. Add the tomatoes, green onions (if using), thyme, and salt and pepper. Pour about 2 to 3 tbsp of the vinaigrette over the salad and toss until everything is coated with the dressing and the seasonings are evenly distributed.
- Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Add more dressing if you like. Set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes to give the pasta time to absorb most of the vinaigrette.
- You can serve right away or store, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring out about 20 minutes before you are ready to serve to warm up slightly.
- Recipe Source: The Heritage Cook
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 542Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 191mgCarbohydrates: 68gFiber: 5gSugar: 8gProtein: 13g
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