Warm Orzo Salad with scallops, artichokes, tomatoes, asparagus, and feta is a Mediterranean-inspired recipe that bakes in the oven.
Broiled Scallops and Seared Scallops are popular because they're ready in minutes. But you still need to figure out what to have them with!
This healthy Mediterranean orzo salad with lemon dressing solves that problem by cooking a complete meal on a sheet pan while you're sitting by the pool sipping your favorite drink.
A girl can dream, can't she?!
You're going to love this main course salad recipe because it has the best flavor and:
- It's almost a one-pan meal. The orzo pasta cooks separately before it's tossed with all the other ingredients.
- It's an easy prep / hands off cooking recipe. This popular dinner strategy allows you to do other things while dinner is in the oven.
- It's a make-ahead recipe. Buy double the ingredients and assemble a second meal in a plastic bag to store in the freezer before cooking. Next time, dinner will be so easy ANYONE can make it!
- It's the perfect side dish for a spring or summer dinner if you leave out the seafood or serve a smaller portion.
Best of all, this delicious pasta salad tastes great hot from the oven or at room temperature. So it's perfect for an easy lunch the next day and summer picnics.
Ingredients and Variations
You'll need these Mediterranean ingredients to make this warm pasta salad recipe:
- Orzo pasta - Use healthier whole wheat pasta if you can find it. Ditalini pasta, or tiny pasta, is a great substitution. Any small-sized pasta will work, including gluten-free options.
- Asparagus cut into 1-2 inch bite-sized pieces.
- Fresh tomatoes cut into smaller pieces. Split grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes in half. We used mini San Marzano tomatoes cut into quarters because that's what my sweetie picked up at the grocery store, and they are delicious! Canned tomatoes will work in a pinch. Drain off the juices first.
- Artichokes - Drain and roughly chop artichoke hearts. Artichokes packed in water or oil may be used.
- Feta Cheese - Crumble and sprinkle over the top. It's optional unless I'm at the table! Parmesan cheese can be used instead.
- Scallops turn this salad into a main dish. We used Patagonian scallops (Zygochlamys Patagonica) in this recipe. Look for "dry" ones so that they have not been processed with phosphates. They are also known as Argentinean or Antarctic scallops. They are larger than the bay variety but smaller than sea scallops.
Not a fan of scallops?
Try shrimp, cooked chicken, or garbanzo beans instead!
Or, leave them out to make a side dish.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
Other vegetables and ingredients that pair well and can cook along with the pasta on a sheet pan include:
- Baby spinach
- Bell peppers
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Pine nuts
- Kalamata olives
For a low-carb version:
Replace orzo with raw cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles!
Cook these veggies alongside the rest of the ingredients!
Lemon Dill Dressing
Lemon dill dressing pulls this warm orzo salad together. Here's what you'll need to make it:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Lemon juice - a fresh squeeze of juice is the best. Zest the lemon for a more lemony flavor!
- Garlic cloves
- Salt and pepper
- Dill - fresh herbs are amazing. But dried will work too!
If using fresh dill, remove the hard stems and then finely chop what remains. You can use dried dill instead. It substitutes at a 1:3 ratio, so use 1 teaspoon of dried instead of 1 Tablespoon of fresh.
Here's how to make warm Mediterranean orzo pasta salad:
- Cook orzo pasta according to the package instructions until al dente.
- Combine dressing ingredients.
- Place prepped vegetables, hot orzo, and raw scallops on a half-sheet pan lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle lemon dill dressing over the top and toss to coat.
- Bake the combined ingredients in the oven at 375 °F for about 15 minutes uncovered. The exact time depends on the size of the scallops. When you cut through one, it should be white and firm to touch.
- Scoop ingredients into a large serving bowl, sprinkle with feta cheese, and enjoy!
Using a baking sheet shortens the cooking time for this orzo recipe because everything is spread in a thin layer. Use two sheet pans and stagger in the oven if necessary to avoid crowding the ingredients.
Store leftover Mediterranean orzo salad in an airtight container or bag for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer. If you're meal prepping, portion individual servings into mason jars.
Move the bag to the refrigerator to defrost overnight. Warm in the microwave or oven.
Make Ahead Freezer Directions
We offered this orzo pasta dish at our Meal Assembly Kitchen so I know for a fact that it freezes very nicely!
Assemble everything in a plastic bag that seals. Don't cook anything except for the orzo pasta. Instead, stir in frozen scallops (or fresh ones that have not been previously frozen) just before freezing.
Another option is to make up the recipe without the protein. Add scallops (or other protein) when you are ready to enjoy it for maximum flexibility.
Either way. Dinner's in the bag!
When you're ready to make this recipe, move the bag to the refrigerator, allow the contents to defrost overnight, and cook as usual.
I've got two more batches in the freezer. Life is good. 🙂
More Mediterranean Recipes
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Warm Orzo Salad with Scallops, Artichokes and Feta
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice or juice of 1 lemon, zest for more flavor!
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pinch pepper
- 3 Tablespoons fresh dill chopped or 1 Tablespoon dried
- 2 cups orzo pasta cooked al dente following package instructions
- 1 pound Patagonian or bay scallops
- 14 ounces artichoke hearts drained and roughly chopped
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved; grape tomatoes or 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
- 15-20 thin asparagus stalks chopped into 1 inch bite-sized pieces
- 4 ounces feta cheese crumbled
- Preheat oven to 375 °F.
- Combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and dill in a small bowl.
- Place remaining ingredients, except for the feta cheese, on a half sheet baking pan covered with aluminum foil.
- Drizzle dressing over the orzo, scallops and vegetables. Gently toss to coat and then spread ingredients over the bottom of the pan.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until scallops are done. Scallops should be white when cut in half and firm to touch, but not cracked.
- Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.
- To make ahead and freeze, add all of the uncooked ingredients, except for feta cheese, to a plastic bag that seals. Stir and then seal it up. Store in the freezer for up to two months for best quality. When you are ready to serve, defrost in the refrigerator overnight and then cook according to instructions.
- Low carb option: replace orzo pasta with cauiflower rice or zucchini noodles. Cook along with all the other ingredients.
This recipe was originally published on June 11, 2105 and has been updated to improve the reader experience.
I love relaxed dinners in the summer. This is a great side dish idea too! Thank you!
Oh, yum! This pasta salad was so good and even better the second day!
I love all of these ingredients! I am totally drooling over this!
Wonderful idea for an easy dinner! I especially like artichokes, my favorite!