If you have been scouring the internet looking for healthy summer salad recipes to try at home this year, you have come to the right place. This summer orzo salad with chicken is made with bright and flavorful veggies, fresh herbs, grated parmesan cheese, and a tangy lemon vinaigrette dressing. It’s packed with incredible flavor and takes only a few minutes of prep work once your orzo pasta is cooked.
Orzo is hands down one of the best types of pasta for pasta salad because the noodles are perfectly bite-sized, allowing for maximum flavor in every bite with little effort. We have been absolutely loving this summer salad, so we knew we couldn’t keep it to ourselves any longer. By cooking the orzo pasta ahead of time and using shredded rotisserie chicken, you can save tons of time on this main course salad dish.
Serve this dreamy summer orzo pasta salad with chicken in your favorite Michael Aram serving bowl alongside classic cookout favorites like grilled veggie skewers, broccoli salad, bruschetta, and corn on the cob. For the perfect picnic, don’t forget to add a refreshing summer cocktail (or mocktail!) to your spread. Get ready to fall in love with your new favorite healthy summer salad recipe!
Summer Pasta Salad Recipe Tips
- If you aren’t a fan of arugula, you can swap it out for baby spinach instead.
- Feel free to switch up the flavor profile by replacing the basil with another fresh herb like parsley, chives, or dill.
- For a tangier flavor, add a teaspoon of lemon zest and mix into the salad.
- To add a smoky and sweet flavor to this summer salad, try slicing some freshly grilled corn on the cob into the dish.
- For heart-healthy fats and a creamy texture, feel free to add avocado chunks.
- Make this orzo salad dairy-free by omitting the parmesan cheese or vegan by omitting both the cheese and the rotisserie chicken.
- If you’re prepping this dish ahead of time, leave out the arugula until you’re ready to serve the dish to prevent it from getting soggy.
Can you make orzo salad ahead?
Of course! You can easily prepare this dish up to 24 hours in advance. However, we recommend waiting to add the arugula and salad dressing until just before you serve the salad. You can store the dressing in an airtight jar in the fridge until you are ready.
How long does pasta salad keep?
Any leftovers of the dish can be stored an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-5 days. As with any pasta salad recipe, we would not recommend freezing this dish, as the textures of the fresh vegetables would likely become mushy when thawed.
Can you make this orzo salad vegetarian?
Absolutely. Feel free to simply omit the chicken for a vegetarian orzo salad or add a plant-based protein source like chickpeas, slivered almonds, or tofu. With so many vibrant flavors, this salad will taste fantastic with any protein source you prefer.
Pasta Salad Ingredients:
- 2 cups cooked orzo pasta, cooled (or substitute any pasta shape you prefer)
- 1-2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- 1-2 cups chopped English cucumber
- 1-2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
- 2 cups fresh arugula, loosely packed
- ½ cup finely chopped red onion
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing:
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Summer Orzo Salad with Chicken Recipe:
- Prep your salad ingredients, then add to a large serving bowl and mix to combine.
- Add the salad dressing ingredients to a small bowl, then whisk to combine.
- Mix the dressing into the salad and taste, then add salt and pepper as needed. Serve and enjoy!