The sun is shining, the weekend is nearly here and it well and truly feels like summer. I have been busy in the kitchen cooking up a truly tasty salad: Orzo and Roast Pepper Salad is packed with sweet roasted peppers, tangy feta, fresh herbs and chewy orzo, this delicious salad is a feast for the eyes, as well as the stomach!
What is Orzo?
Sometimes known by its Italian name Risoni, or by the Greek name Kritharaki, orzo is a type of pasta. It is roughly grain or rice-shaped and is totally addictive. Something about the shape and texture makes it PERFECT for pasta salads like this one.
Orzo and Roast Pepper Salad is full of flavour
So, team, this is how it works. To make this salad you first roast bell or sweet pointed peppers (my favourite) in the oven until they are deliciously smoky and sweet, then you toss them together with cooked orzo, spicy chorizo sausage, a garlicky vinaigrette and loads of fresh herbs. Add a bit of creamy, salty feta cheese and you have the best pasta salad around.
Make a big batch to snack on all week or feed a crowd
This recipe can be extended to fit your needs. Meal prepping for a week in the office? Just double up and pack it away, Orzo and Roast Pepper Salad keeps beautifully in the fridge (actually, it gets better). Feeding a crowd at a Memorial Weekend barbecue? Make a big batch because everyone comes back for seconds.
Give it your own twist
With a pasta salad like this, I find it really important to taste as you go along. Everybody has different taste buds, so tweak it until it hits YOUR bliss point. I like things extra tart with loads of lemon and vinegar, but you might like it milder. Keep tasting and adding more of what tastes good to you (but don’t get carried away and eat it all – trust me, this is possible).
In a rush? Cheat!
While I would implore you to roast your own peppers, I know sometimes time is short and you just want to get things over and done with. You can use good quality roasted peppers from the jar to make this recipe speedier.
Looking for more delicious summery salads?
Summer Roast Vegetable Salad is on permanent rotation in our house all through the warmer months. Invited to a picnic or a barbecue? Italian Caprese Pasta Salad is always a winner!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I can’t get orzo! Can I still make Orzo and Roast Pepper Salad?
Of course, just use another small pasta shape.
How long does Orzo and Pepper Salad keep in the fridge?
As long as you have a nice cool fridge, at least 5 days. I’d suggest adding the basil as and when you need it, and drizzling over a bit of fresh lemon and some olive oil before serving to wake it up a bit.
Can Orzo and Pepper Salad be vegetarian?
Of course! Leave out the chorizo. A nice alternative is to add a little diced and fried Halloumi cheese, it has a lovely chew and saltiness.
Roasting peppers brings out all their natural sweetness. Bell peppers are perfect, but if you can get them, try sweet pointed peppers for out of this world flavour.
I like to bring extra lemon, chilli and herbs to the table so everybody can flavour their salad how they like best.
Orzo and Roast Pepper Salad
Packed with roasted peppers, tangy feta, fresh herbs and chewy orzo, this bright and beautiful pasta salad is a summer favourite. Orzo and Roast Pepper Salad gets better as the days go by, so make a big batch to take you through the week!
for the roasted peppers:
- 4-5 bell peppers or sweet pointed peppers (red and yellow)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 red onions, cut into wedges
for the salad:
- 250g (½ lb) orzo / risoni
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 red chilli, finely diced
- 125g (¼ lb.) spicy chorizo sausage, diced
- 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1-2 tsp sweet paprika powder or flakes (see note)
- lemon juice, to taste
- small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 200g (½ lb.) feta cheese
- 125g cherry tomatoes, halved
- small bunch of fresh basil leaves
- sea salt and black pepper
- ROAST THE PEPPERS: Heat the oven to 220°C / 425°F / Gas 7. Line an oven tray with baking paper, place the peppers on top (I cut bell peppers in half, lengthways) and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, adding the onions after 20 minutes.
- COOK THE ORZO: Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the orzo until just al dente, 12-14 minutes. Drain, refresh under running water and set aside.
- PEEL THE PEPPERS (optional): When the peppers have cooked, transfer to a heatproof bowl, cover with clingfilm and allow to stand for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel away as much of the skin as possible, tearing the peppers into strips.
- MAKE THE DRESSING: While the peppers are cooling, heat the olive oil, garlic and chilli in a small saucepan, just until warm and fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir through the chorizo, red wine vinegar and sugar. Add a squeeze of lemon juice.
- ASSEMBLE THE SALAD: Transfer the orzo to a mixing bowl, and stir through the torn peppers, onions, dressing and parsley. Season with salt and black pepper. Spread the orzo mixture over a serving dish, crumble over the feta and scatter over the cherry tomatoes and basil.
- ADJUST SEASONING AND SERVE: Taste, add more lemon juice, salt or pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.
- I use a type of Turkish paprika flake called Pul Biber, sometimes known as Aleppo Pepper. It has a wonderfully sweet and slightly smoky flavour which compliments this dish perfectly. It is available in most Turkish food shops, or online, link below.
- If you want to really bulk out this salad, add the shredded meat of a rotisserie chicken. So good!
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