Spinach and Orzo Salad

A few weeks ago I had an amazing spinach salad at a noon hour presentation my husband and I attended to learn about rain gardens and rain barrels. We learned a little bit about both, but the food grabbed my attention even more. My favorite was one of the salads. The colors caught my eyes first – the deep green of fresh spinach, bright red tomatoes, dark slices of Kalamata olives and white ovals of pearl couscous. I topped it with the green olive vinaigrette and goat cheese they served with it, and sat down to eat. I think this salad was my favorite part of the meal. The flavors and textures blended beautifully.

Spinach and Orzo Salad Collage

Afterward I endeavored to make a similar spinach salad at home. I kept the spinach, tomatoes, and Kalamata olives, but added sliced mushrooms, zucchini, and red onion. You could add even more vegetables if you want. Truth be told, I had most of these on hand when I started. They complemented each other in the salad so I kept them in. Plus they’re good for you – supplying all kinds of nutrients and fiber.

Spinach and Orzo Salad - Orzo

I found orzo at Trader Joe’s for only 99¢, so I went with that instead of couscous; and used a red wine vinaigrette that I modified from a recipe I found on Food Network. You can find the original vinaigrette recipe here. If you’re concerned about calories use less of the vinaigrette on your salad – or dip your fork into the vinaigrette and then stab the salad. You’ll use less vinaigrette and still get a bit of the flavor from it.

Spinach and Orzo Salad 4

To complete the salad I added sunflower seeds for crunch and had goat cheese and feta cheese nearby as a topping – to add a little creaminess. I think it would be good with grilled chicken too, but I haven’t tried it that way yet. All in all this salad turned out tasty and visually appealing, and it makes a healthy addition to a meal.

Have you ever been inspired to come up with your own recipe by a dish you’ve had elsewhere? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Spinach and Orzo Salad

Spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, and other vegetables combine with orzo and red wine vinaigrette to make a tasty, visually appealing, and healthy salad.
Prep Time45 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Holiday recipes
Servings: 8
Author: Marie

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 1/2 c. dry orzo
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 c. sliced zucchini
  • 1 c. sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 c. sliced kalamata olives
  • 1 1/2 c. halved grape tomatoes
  • 6 c. baby spinach or other greens if desired
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c. feta cheese or goat cheese if desired

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook orzo according to package directions till tender, about 9 minutes. Rinse and cool completely.
  • In large bowl place cleaned and sliced red onion, zucchini, mushrooms, and olives.
  • Cut tomatoes in half and add to bowl along with spinach.
  • Pour sunflower seeds evenly on top.
  • Prepare vinaigrette by placing red wine vinegar, lemon juice, kosher salt, honey, basil, olive oil, and pepper in small bowl. Mix thoroughly with whisk or immersion blender till completely blended.
  • Pour desired amount of vinaigrette over salad ingredients (or serve alongside salad and allow individuals to pour their own viniagrette)
  • Toss all ingredients together.
  • Top with feta or goat cheese if desired.

Thank you for sharing!

21 Comments

  1. What a beautiful salad! Seriously, how did you know I was just thinking, what am I going to do with this orzo I have in the pantry and I have some spinach in the fridge I need to use up! Thanks for sharing, I’ll be pinning and trying this tomorrow!

  2. I’ve never tried orzo on a salad! Looks good. Thanks for sharing this recipe at the Healthy Tuesday hop. 🙂

  3. You created a really beautiful salad. I, too have been inspired by restaurants to create beautiful salads. Who wants boring iceberg lettuce and a tiny tomato? Not me. Load it up with lots of nutrient dense vegetables. I like the addition of orzo. I’ll have to give that a try as well. Thank you for linking up at the Get Fit Friday hop and for inspiring our readers to make healthier food choices. I hope you come back to visit us often. I look forward to reading much more.

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