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spring “clean” orzo salad

by Jackie Newgent  |  March 22, 2017  |  1 Comment

spring “clean” orzo salad

It’s time for some spring cleaning! Don’t worry, the type of “housework” I’m talking about is not a chore at all. Just head on over to your kitchen where your tastebuds can actually benefit from this cleanup!

The theme of this month’s Recipe Redux is: “Spring Clean the Kitchen.” So, I created this whole-wheat orzo recipe using ingredients that I already had on hand. If you don’t have all of the same ingredients, make swaps based on what you do have in your fridge or pantry. Challenge yourself to not shop for anything new. For instance, use about 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, brown rice, or other pasta if you don’t have orzo; try white wine vinegar if you don’t have lemon; and try garlic powder if you don’t have fresh garlic. If you want a surprising hint of sweetness, use whatever fruit from your fridge or fruit bowl that needs to be used up quickly. (I know that might sound a bit odd, but it totally works if you use just a bit. I used grapes, FYI!) Then use any raw or cooked leftover veggie odds and ends you have on hand (I used raw zucchini, grape tomatoes, and scallions!). Don’t forget pistachios, pine nuts, or chopped walnuts to complete the recipe with a little nuttiness and crunchiness.

The result … a satisfying vegan salad that’s nutritionally “clean”—plus a fun and delicious way to do some spring cleaning. A win-win, for sure!

Calories saved: 38

Why it’s better for you? More fiber and whole grain goodness!

 spring “clean” orzo salad

spring “clean” orzo salad

Yield: 4 servings

Serving size: 1 1/4 cups


  • 1 1/4 cups dry whole-wheat orzo (7 ounces)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-thinly sliced or diced fruit of choice (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced or sliced veggies of choice
  • 1/3 cup nuts of choice


  1. Boil the orzo according to package directions, about 9 minutes; drain well.* (Makes 2 1/2 cups cooked.)
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined. Stir in the fruit, if using.
  3. Add the hot, drained orzo to the lemon vinaigrette mixture and gently stir to coat. Set aside to cool for about 30 minutes, stirring a few times to prevent sticking. Then chill in the refrigerator.
  4. Into the cool orzo, stir the veggies and nuts, and serve at room temperature.

Per serving: 310 calories, 13g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 610mg sodium, 42g total carbohydrate, 7g dietary fiber, 3g sugars, 0g added sugars, 8g protein

*HINT: Or try my lid-cooking approach to save energy: Stir orzo into boiling water; bring back to boil; cover; remove from heat; let “lid-cook” without heat about 9 minutes; and drain well.


The “Before” Version

Inspired by variation of Greek Orzo Salad

Per serving: 348 calories, 10g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 22mg cholesterol, 615mg sodium, 53g total carbohydrate, 5g dietary fiber, 5g sugars, 14g protein


Tasteover Tips

  • When possible, go with a whole grain instead of a refined grain food for more nutty taste, more fiber, and more plant nutrients
  • Aim for a balance of flavors—try a surprise touch of natural sweetness from fruit in a savory dish
  • Go for more contrasting textures—finish salads with nuts for lots of crunch plus a little punch of protein





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