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Spinach Orzo Salad With Feta, Tomatoes and a Basil Dressing

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Calories: 355
Spinach Orzo Salad With Feta, Tomatoes and a Basil Dressing in a serving bowl

This colorful, hearty spinach orzo salad tastes like a garden at its summertime best—juicy tomatoes, fragrant basil, garlic and plenty of sunshine-y lemon.

Potlucks to BBQs and Everything In Between, a Hearty Spinach Salad Recipe for All the Summertime Things!

We have a feeling this spinach salad is going to become our go-to summer salad this year. Why? It’s hearty—easily a filling stand-alone side dish to a simple supper of grilled chicken or fish. It’s full of the summer produce that we want to just bathe in when they’re in season! Juicy, ripe cherry tomatoes that are sweet and bursting and (maybe even) warm and fresh from your own garden. Fresh basil at its peak—plucked just before it goes into the salad if you’ve got some growing in your yard, or maybe fresh from the farmers market. Either way, so fresh, so fragrant, so very SUMMER. Pine nuts are a natural partner for basil—pesto anyone?—and add their own richness and heft. Plus we love their subtle buttery flavor against the salty sharpness of feta cheese. And feta and spinach? Well, they’re a classic salad recipe pairing and one that we happen to just adore.

spinach, orzo, basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and feta

Everything You’ll Need To Make This Baby Spinach & Orzo Salad Recipe

Did you know that orzo is a type of pasta? It looks sort of like rice, but in fact it’s just a tiny little pasta shape. We love the textural element that orzo adds to this spinach salad, and it also helps make it a bit more filling. You could even enjoy this spinach orzo salad as a light summer meal—say on a night when you’re saving room for berry crisp or post-dinner ice cream cones or something wonderful like that. Bright greens and reds and whites, this Mediterranean spinach salad looks like the colors of the Italian flag and tastes like lunch on the riviera — what could be better? Here’s all that you’ll need to make it:

  • Baby spinach

  • Cherry tomatoes

  • Feta

  • Orzo

  • Pine nuts

  • Fresh basil

garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, basil, olive oil, sugar, alt and pepper in the base of a blender
basil vinaigrette in the base of a blender
baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, feta, orzo, pine nuts and basil in a bowl
baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, feta, orzo, pine nuts and basil mixed together in a bowl

The Best Ever Spinach Salad Dressing

A salad recipe is only as good as the dressing it's topped with—you know that’s true, right? And this particular lemony basil vinaigrette is the absolute best spinach salad dressing recipe we’ve ever dreamt up! Because spinach is such a flavorful salad green—insanely nutritious, too, BTW—it can stand up to a salad dressing that packs some major punch without being drowned out. And we love that about spinach! It brings its own vegetal, earthy flavor, and it can hold its own against whatever other lovely ingredients we want to throw its way. In this case, the dressing is a blend of:

  • Fresh garlic

  • Lemon zest & juice

  • Fresh basil

  • Olive oil

  • Sugar

  • Salt & pepper

baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, feta, orzo, pine nuts and basil in a bowl

How To Make This Easy Spinach Salad

You can do quite a bit of prep ahead of time, so that when it’s time to eat you can simply assemble and tuck in! We’ll try to point out when there’s a good chance to make one of the components ahead of time.

  1. Cook the orzo and let it cool. You could do this up to a day ahead of time and store it in the fridge, since you need the orzo to be cold anyway!

  2. Blend all the ingredients for the spinach salad dressing. You could do this up to a day ahead, too, because the lemon juice should help the fresh basil retain its vibrant color.

  3. Toast the pine nuts. How to toast pine nuts: put a dry skillet over medium heat and sprinkle the pine nuts into it. Shake the pan and move the nuts around with a spoon for a few minutes until you can smell them and see that they’ve taken on a bit of color. Pull them as soon as you can tell they’re toasting—they can burn pretty easily. Let them cool before you toss them with the salad.

  4. In a large bowl toss the spinach with the orzo, tomatoes and feta with the basil vinaigrette until fully combined.

  5. Garnish with pine nuts and ribboned basil leaves.

baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, feta, orzo, pine nuts and basil in a bowl
baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, feta, orzo, pine nuts and basil in a bowl

Tools You’ll Need

More Simple Salad Recipes To Try

baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, feta, orzo, pine nuts and basil in a bowl

A Salad to Love All Summer Long

We’re head over heels for this flavorful, beautiful salad. It’s pretty enough to be the centerpiece of your next backyard shindig, or to bring to a potluck where you really want to be sure that everyone’s super in love with your contribution. Whatever you make it for and whomever you share it with, let us know how you like it, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Spinach Orzo Salad With Feta, Tomatoes and a Basil Dressing

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Calories: 355

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb Orzo
  • 5 oz Baby spinach, about 4 cups packed
  • 1 pint Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 oz Feta, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup Pine nuts, toasted
  • 6 Basil leaves, thinly sliced into ribbons

Basil Vinaigrette

  • 1 Garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 tsp Lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon juice, from 1 lemon, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup Basil, packed
  • 1/3 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Fine sea salt
  • Pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Cook the orzo in salted water according to package directions. Drain pasta and rinse in cold water. This prevents the pasta from being too warm when added to the salad.
  2. Make the Basil Vinaigrette: Add all of the vinaigrette ingredients to the base of a high-powered blender or a food processor. Blend until mostly smooth. Season to taste with more salt or lemon juice, if needed.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the spinach with the cooked orzo, tomatoes and feta with the basil vinaigrette until fully combined. Sprinkle with pine nuts and ribboned basil leaves.