Turkish orzo salad (arpa şehriye salatası) has become a bit of a staple in our house of late.
Its versatility – it makes a perfect side dish or main dish – is one attraction.
We All Love Easy Recipes
Another is that simple recipes are just the best; especially when you need something quick and healthy to eat.
And especially when it’s so hot outside!
This is a tasty summer orzo salad recipe where you can eat as much or as little as you like.
Then put the rest back in the fridge for when the hunger hits again.
It’s an easy salad that tastes great the next day. So don’t worry about making too much.
One Of The Classic Turkish Salads
Not that Turkish people would ever dream of waiting for summer before they had orzo salad. Or any other salad for that matter.
There’s always a salad of some description on a Turkish table at meal times; not to mention at summer picnics. And winter picnics, too.
The people of Turkey know how to picnic, whatever the weather!
Whilst Turkey isn’t probably best known for its traditional pasta dishes, orzo pasta is an ingredient that is oft used.
Other Turkish Pasta Recipes
As well as this orzo salad recipe, orzo is also used in soups to make them a bit more hearty.
But anyway, back to the cold stuff – our pasta salad recipe.
We’ve used orzo previously in our colourful springtime broad bean salad. On that occasion, however, it was one of the backing singers.
The Star Of The Show
For this orzo pasta salad recipe, the orzo is the star of the show, with brightly coloured accompaniments that make for a tempting cold dish throughout those hot summer months.
So, are you looking for a quick and easy a last-minute side dish?
Or do you want your orzo salad to be part of your meze table along with other meze plates?
Or is it going to be a main meal?
The addition of some cubed, tangy feta cheese (beyaz peynir), halloumi cheese (hellim peynir) or goat cheese is always a winner!
Whatever your choice, here’s how to make Turkish orzo salad; arpa şehriye salatası.
Our Easy Orzo Salad Ingredients
A Turkish orzo salad uses different salad ingredients to other Mediterranean orzo salad recipes.
That doesn’t mean you can’t throw in some additional extras, however.
Here’s the Turkish pasta salad and then we’ll make some suggestions for any extras you might want to add.
First of all, of course, we’re going bring a saucepan of water to the boil over a high heat. Then add our orzo.
We need to cook this over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, according to your package directions.
Don’t let your orzo cook until it’s soft. As soon as it is al dente, we add a splash of olive oil to the water and give it a stir. Then, we pour it into a colander to drain.
A bit of cold water over the top of the orzo prevents it from cooking further. And the olive oil you mixed around will stop it from clumping together in the colander.
Whilst your orzo is cooking and draining, you can be getting on with the rest of your meal prep.
Depending on the colours you are going for, you can either use red onion or spring onions (green onion).
In our orzo salad, we use spring onions because we like to add some of the green shoot, too. A bit of texture and extra greenery.
Add your chopped onions to a large bowl along with the rest of your ingredients.
Our Turkish orzo pasta salad is going to have:
- Sweetcorn – fresh or tinned.
- Roasted red pepper – roasting your red peppers brings the sweetness out in them. In Turkey, you can buy jarred roasted red peppers and this is what we use in our pasta salad.
- Pickled gherkins – there’s always room for turşu (pickled vegetables) in Turkish cuisine.
- A handful of capers – this is our own added ingredient. For us, you can’t have a pasta salad without a few chopped capers.
All of those go into our serving bowl and then we add our drained, cooked orzo and give everything a good mix.
And now it’s time for the fresh herbs.
There aren’t many Turkish salad recipes that don’t contain a good dose of freshly chopped dill and chopped fresh parsley. This one is no different.
We also add a generous spoonful of dried mint. In the warmer weather, when it’s growing, a bit of torn, fresh basil, too.
The Orzo Salad Dressing
A typical Turkish salad dressing for our orzo salad.
In a small bowl, we’re going to mix some extra virgin olive oil (or good quality olive oil) with fresh lemon juice and nar ekşisi (pomegranate molasses).
Then we add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix it all together before drizzling over our the salad.
Don’t worry if you can’t find nar ekşisi. Red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar will also taste great.
Adding Extras To Your Orzo Salad Recipe
When you see orzo salad in Turkey, the ingredients we’ve used above are all very common. They make a great vegetarian or vegan recipe.
Some people will also add some chopped chicken breasts to the salad to make tavuklu şehriye salatası – chicken orzo salad.
And, of course, when in Turkey – a big scoop of süzme yoghurt stirred into the salad will give you yoğurtlu şehriye salatası.
Both yoghurt and chicken are also used as a combination, too.
And if you want to add some extra Mediterranean flavours and colours in there, vibrant red cherry tomatoes and black olives provide a great contrast, as well as extra flavour.
Turkish Orzo Salad FAQs
Usually, when we make a pasta salad, we allow roughly 100g of pasta per person.
However, orzo goes a lot further than larger pasta shapes and you only need roughly 50g per person for your orzo salad recipe.
Orzo is a short pasta that is often used in Turkish cuisine. It resembles a long grain rice.
As well as this orzo salad recipe, cooking with orzo comes in the form of soups and pilaf dishes.
Cook your orzo in boiling water for around 10 minutes. For orzo salad, rinse it under cold water immediately to prevent it from cooking further as it cools.
This salad is one of those great side dishes that are really versatile. Serve alongside şiş kebabs or grilled meats.
If you want to make a main meal from your orzo salad, this can be done with little effort. Add some cubed white cheese (salty feta cheese) or fry some halloumi and add that.
The seafood route is always good, too. Try adding some sizzling, shelled king prawns to the mix.
If you want to save some of your pasta salad for next time, store it in an airtight container in the fridge and it will last for around 4 days.
When you come to serve it, allow to come back to room temperature to loosen your dressing.
Our Easy Turkish Orzo Salad Recipe
Let’s make this quick and easy salad.
Turkish Orzo Salad Recipe – Arpa Şehriye Salatası
- 1 Medium saucepan
- 1 Colander
- 1 Large serving dish
- 1 Sharp knife
- 200 grams orzo pasta
- 150 grams tinned sweetcorn drained weight
- 2 large jarred red peppers roasted peppers
- 1 bunch spring onions trimmed & washed
- 5 medium pickled gherkins roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers roughly chopped
- ½ bunch parsley stems removed & roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried mint
- salt & pepper to season
For The Dressing
- 1 large lemon juiced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses or balsamic or red wine vinegar
- salt &; pepper to season
- First of all, add a splash of olive oil to your pan of water and bring it to the boil before adding your orzo pasta.
- Reduce to a medium heat and cook according the package instructions. Approx 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, take your large serving dish and add your peppers, onions, gherkins, capers and sweetcorn.
- Once your orzo pasta is cooked, drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to prevent it from cooking further. The olive oil will prevent it from sticking together.
- When your orzo has cooled, add it to the serving bowl and stir everything together.
- Now add your fresh and dry herbs and salt and pepper and mix everything together.
- Mix your dressing in a small bowl and drizzle this over your orzo salad.
- Serve your orzo salad as a meze, side dish or add some extras to make a main meal.
- As with all of our recipes, calories per serving are meant as a guide only.
- In Turkey, large, whole roasted red peppers are sold in jars. If you can’t get these, pickled sweet red pepper will be fine. Or you can roast your own peppers and chop them up.
- Orzo salad goes perfectly with grilled meats. If you want to make a main meal out of the salad, we like to add cubes of beyaz peynir (white cheese similar to feta cheese) or hellim (fried halloumi cheese).
- If you want a more Mediterranean orzo salad, you can add some juicy tomatoes and pitted black olives.
If you’d like some traditional, homemade Turkish accompaniments to go with your orzo salad, check out our list of Turkish recipes for a few ideas.