Orzo Salad

Orzo salad with spring vegetables like asparagus, peas, arugula, and fresh herbs. The surprise element is crispy prosciutto that elevates this humble salad to an elegant one. With so many fresh vibrant flavors and textures, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice is just enough as a dressing.

Orzo salad with spring vegetable, crispy prosciutto, pistachio dressed in EVVO, parmesan, fresh lemon juice. Topped with creamy burrata.

This salad is worth serving as a centerpiece on a dinner table. Orzo salad filled with bright fresh spring veggies like peppery arugula, asparagus, green peas, mint & Italian basil. Then the surprising element, salty crispy prosciutto. All these are tossed with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and parmesan. And you can’t go wrong with creamy burrata and salty pistachio as toppings.

I have always used prosciutto in sandwiches and pizzas. But crispy prosciutto is a whole new revelation to me. It is crispy, salty, and savory, like crispy bacon but more subtle in flavour and exotic. It adds the necessary crunch to the salad and a whole lot of flavor.

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Not every salad needs a dressing. Sometimes just seasoning the salad lets the other components shine. EVOO, fresh lemon juice, fresh parmesan, salt, and pepper works as dressing in this recipe.

Serve this refreshing salad as a side dish, lunch or dinner with some sourdough bread.

Orzo salad with spring vegetable, crispy prosciutto, pistachio dressed in EVVO, parmesan, fresh lemon juice.

Ingredients for the salad

  • Orzo- Orzo is rice-shaped small pasta. Easily available in major supermarkets. You might find these labeled as ‘Risoni’ for few brands.
  • Asparagus- Tender green ones are the crispiest. Discard the white parts as they are fibrous and chewy.
  • Peas- Fresh sweet green peas. You could use thawed frozen peas.
  • Arugula- Spicy and peppery arugula. I prefer arugula because they don’t wilt easily and stay well. Baby spinach would also be great as an alternative
  • Prosciutto
  • Italian Basil – I have used fresh parsley along with basil. You could use a blend of fresh herbs as well. Go with your favorite.
  • Brutta
  • Salted pistachio – You can also substitute with toasted sliced almond.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan
  • Lemon juice

Variations

While I love how the above components complement each other, there are a few other variations you can come up with like adding Sun-dried tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives.

Prep before assembling Orzo salad

  • Blanch veggies – Trim the white parts of Asparagus. Add asparagus and peas to boiling water( I usually season it with some salt) and let it cook for 1 minute. Drain veggies and immediately plunge them into ice-cold water for the cooking process to stop.
Blanch asparagus and peas.
  • Cook Prosciutto – There are 2 ways to crisp these. Place them on parchment paper and bake at @420 F for 8-10 minutes until crispy. Or on the stovetop, as I have done,I was too lazy to switch on the oven. While cooking on a skillet, cook on low heat and press gently with the back of spatula for the prosciutto to crisp up evenly. You might not get evenly colored prosciutto when cooked on the skillet, as it tends to curl up but it will be crisp up. Once completely cooled down, crush it into small pieces.
Cook prosciutto until crispy.
  • Cook and season Orzo – Cook orzo like you cook pasta in salted water and drain. Add orzo to a large salad bowl. While the orzo is still warm, add extra virgin olive oil, finely grated parmesan cheese, and fresh lemon juice. Warm orzo absorbs the flavors well. Also adds a creaminess to it.
Season orzo with EVOO, parmesan and fresh lemon juice.
  • Assemble the salad – After the orzo has completely cooled down, add arugula, blanched veggies, crispy prosciutto, chopped fresh herbs, and roughly chopped pistachios. Toss well. While serving, add a good drizzle of EVOO on top, grated parmesan, and burrata.
Orzo salad with spring vegetable, crispy prosciutto, pistachio dressed in EVVO, parmesan, fresh lemon juice.

Recipe tips

  1. Blanching keeps the veggies bright green and tender but still with a crunch. If using frozen peas, then skip the process because they are already blanched and frozen.
  2. You can also grill the asparagus and add it to the orzo salad.
  3. Adding olive oil, parmesan and lemon juice while the orzo is still warm allows the pasta to absorb flavours and also gives it a creamy consistency.
  4. Make sure all the components are at room temperature before assembling the salad.
  5. Use a blend of 2-3 herbs for a fresh spring vibe. I have used parsely, green onion and Italian basil here.

Can we make Orzo salad ahead?

You can make the salad ahead and refrigerate. Or prepare all the components and assemble just before serving so that the green stays fresh and crunchy.

Cooked prosciutto you can store for a few days in the refrigerator. After blanching the veggies store it in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days.

Orzo salad with spring vegetable, crispy prosciutto, pistachio dressed in EVVO, parmesan, fresh lemon juice. Topped with creamy burrata.

Serving

Thanks to Orzo and all the veggies, this salad makes a wholesome and filling meal on its own. With all the Italian elements in the salad, it would pair perfectly well with crusty bread or our no knead Foccacia.

Serve this is as a side dish with grilled meat, Crispy chicken cutlet, Air fryer crispy chicken breast, BBQ Pork Tenderloin, Skillet Pork Chops .

Storage

Leftovers can be stored well for a couple of days. If you have served the salad with buratta, try not to mix it with rest of the salad for the salad to store well.

More Orzo recipes you might like

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Orzo salad

Course Salad, Side Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Assembling 10 minutes
The beauty of this salad is the freshness of the spring veggies and surprising crunch from crispy Prosciutto.
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Orzo dry
  • cup Parmesan finely grated
  • 1 lemon can add lemon zest if desired
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5-6 slices prosciutto
  • 3 cup arugula
  • ½ cup green peas
  • 1 bunch asparagus ( 1/2 pound )trimmed the top green tender part
  • ½ cup salted pistachio
  • ½ cup freshly basil copped
  • Burrata chesse
  • More olive oil on top

Instructions

Cook and prep Orzo

  • Cook orzo as per package instruction. Drain and keep it in a large salad bowl.
  • While orzo is still hot, drizzle extra virgin oliv oil, fresh lemon juice and gratred parmesan. Toss well to combine. Then let it cool down completely.

Blanch Veggies

  • In a lightly salted boiling water, add aspragus and peas. Let it cook on medium heat for 1 minute. Immidietly, remove the veggies with a slotted spoon and dump in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Once completely cool, drain and keep aside.

Cook proscuitto

  • You can either bake them until crispy in an oven or on a stop top. To cook in oven, place them in a single layer on a parchment paper and bake @425 F for 8-10 minutes until golden brown in colour.
  • To cook on stove top, spread them in a single layer and cook on low heat until crispy on both the sides. Once the prosciutto slices hit hot pan, tend to curl up. so for even browining press the slices gently with the back of the spatula in between.
  • Let it cool and crush it roughly.

Assemble

  • Add veggies, crushed proscuitto, arugula, pistachio to orzo. Toss well.
  • While serving top it with burrata, good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, parmesan and lemon wedges.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 411kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 210mg | Potassium: 633mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1484IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 186mg | Iron: 4mg
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One Comment

  1. Subhasmita says:

    5 stars
    My family loves this orzo salad.

5 from 1 vote

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