Pack some protein into your summer pasta salads with this Easy Orzo and Chickpea Salad recipe! A delicious addition to anything off the BBQ.
One of my favorite things about summer (aside from the warm weather, lack of routine and ridiculous amounts of ice cream) is how we eat. Gone are the heavy meat and potatoes meals of winter. Instead, we relish fresh produce and low maintenance meals.
This Easy Orzo and Chickpea Salad is the perfect example. It’s a snap to make in advance for a backyard BBQ plus it doubles as a tasty lunch or snack to pull out of the fridge when the munchies strike.
Just a handful of ingredients come together to make this pasta salad recipe, many of which you probably already have in your kitchen right now:
- Orzo (any other small shaped pasta like rings or ditalini will work, too)
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Fresh oregano
- Goat cheese (feta cheese is a solid substitute)
- Salt & pepper
What are chickpeas?
A chickpea is a legume that is high in fiber, iron and protein. A real plant-based “superfood”. You can buy dry chickpeas at the grocery store, but they are also found cooked and labeled in the canned goods section as garbanzo beans.
(Why do they have two different names? That’s above my pay grade.)
If you’ve ever eaten hummus, you’ve eaten chickpeas. They are the primary ingredients in hummus.
Never made your own hummus? It’s super easy to do! For a couple of beginner hummus recipes, check out our Cilantro Jalapeño Hummus. It’s packed with ripe, vibrant flavors. Even non-hummus eaters enjoy it!
When I said this recipe was easy, I meant it. You always have the option to soak dry chickpeas but that process takes at least 8 hours, but very rarely do I have that kind of time (or plan that far in advance).
Rather than make this salad completely from scratch, I prefer take a few shortcuts and grab cans of cooked chickpeas from the store. They are usually inexpensive, especially if you catch them on sale.
Rinse, drain, and stir together with the other salad ingredients. That’s all there is to it.
Not a goat cheese fan? Swap the goat cheese for feta cheese in this Easy Orzo and Chickpea Salad.
I get it; not everyone is a goat cheese lover like I am. Craving a different flavor punch? You can also top this salad with salty feta cheese.
The Mediterranean flavors in this recipe (fresh oregano, a red wine vinaigrette, cucumbers and tomatoes) are the perfect match for the briny feta.
If I’m short on time, I grab the pre-crumbled feta from the grocery store, but if possible, a block of feta cheese is my go-to. The flavor of block feta is much richer and the cheese is a bit more moist because it’s sealed in brine.
Plus you always get more bang for your buck with block feta than you do with the pre-crumbled container.
Gluten Free Tips
Have guests that are gluten-free? You can still serve this Easy Orzo and Chickpea Salad. Simply substitute gluten-free orzo for the regular orzo.
Gluten-free pastas are more readily available than ever. My favorite brand of gluten-free orzo is made by Delallo. It holds up well even after a few days in the fridge, which is not always the case with gluten-free pastas. Seek it out if you can.
I prefer to serve this Easy Orzo and Chickpea Salad chilled, but it’s also tasty at room temperature, which is great for entertaining.
If you do prep the salad ahead of time, hold back a little bit of the oregano vinaigrette and stir it into the salad just before serving.
This chickpea salad keeps well in the fridge, so it often becomes my lunch the next day. Feel free to stir in any reserved salad dressing to “freshen” the flavor. Or mix in any leftover meats from the grill for some additional protein.
This Easy Orzo and Chickpea Salad recipe is a delicious BBQ side dish recipe - perfect for your next backyard party!
More summer side dish recipes:
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Tomato, Mozzarella and Grilled Corn Salad
Easy Broccoli Salad with Bacon & Cheese
Grilled German Potato Salad
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Easy Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Arugula and Pistachios
Fruit Salad with Lime Mint Dressing
Easy Orzo and Chickpea Salad
- ¾ cup dried orzo
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 4 ounces goat cheese crumbled
- 1 ½ cups chopped cucumber
- 1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas or 3 cups canned, rinsed chickpeas
- Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
- Combine olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper in a small mason jar. Shake vigorously to combine.
- Add cooked orzo, goat cheese, cucumber, tomatoes and chickpeas to a large bowl and stir to combine. Drizzle ⅔ of oregano vinaigrette over orzo mixture and stir to combine. Chill for at least 1 hour. Stir before serving and add remaining vinaigrette if desired.
Nutrition info not guaranteed to be accurate.
Need a protein-packed vegetarian pasta salad recipe? This Easy Orzo and Chickpea Salad is a delicious side dish for backyard BBQs!