A cool, creamy southwestern orzo salad with black beans, veggies, queso fresco and an easy homemade cilantro-lime vinaigrette!
Updated with a VIDEO:
I sure hope spring is in full swing where you are by now because I’m seeing that it’s almost May and I’m breaking out my shorts and flip flops, planting my garden veggies and flowers and setting my sights on all the summer salads and picnic and BBQ sides. ❤️
Like this southwestern orzo salad.
It’s a hearty side dish, full of black beans and fresh veggies, and has a creamy cilantro-lime dressing that takes just minutes to make in your blender and coats every last bit of pasta. Plus, some crumbled queso fresco for an extra dose of creaminess. Cause cheese is never a bad idea. 😉
And I’ve also got a fun blog-hop for you today! I’ve teamed up with some of my blogger friends to bring you 34 Cinco de Mayo themed recipes! We’ve got ALL your fiesta needs covered. Be sure to check them out below.
I made this southwestern orzo salad recently when my husband’s best friend was over and having dinner with us after the kiddos were tucked away in bed. We devoured it and I had only a small bowl left the next day.
I snacked on the leftovers mid-afternoon and of course, whenever there’s food out, my little munchkins came running. #totallymykids
I offered them a small bite and they both loved this southwestern orzo salad! Kept wanting one more bite, and pretty soon, my snack was gone and I was still hungry. Ah, motherhood…
So of course I made this salad again the next weekend for us all to enjoy and we chowed down happily, each with our own bowl full. Cause mama’s not big on sharing. Just being honest! 😂
This pasta salad is cool and creamy, with a hint of background spice from the jalapeño in the dressing (but not spicy or my kids would have been dramatically grabbing at their tongues) and it’s got a great bright, fresh flavor bursting through in every bite.
We ate it with some spice-rubbed pork chops, but it would go equally well with chicken or steak or anything from the grill. You could even stir in some leftover grilled or rotisserie chicken and make this a full meal. 👍
A few notes on this southwestern orzo salad:
- You need to make this salad in advance to allow the orzo to cool, so please plan accordingly.
- I like to get whole wheat orzo when I can find it, but it’s not available in many stores. Also, this recipe calls for 10 oz., which is not the whole box if yours comes in a 1 lb. package like mine. It’s about 2/3rds of the box (I eyeball it).
- Queso fresco, or queso blanco, is a mild white Mexican cheese. It’s available in most grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, you can substitute a mild feta cheese (a French style one, not a Greek one) or a mild goat cheese.
- If you’re making this ahead, I recommend you keep the dressing separate and mix it into the pasta salad just before you serve it, so the flavors stay nice and bright and fresh. You can also add some extra lime juice and cilantro to punch up the flavors when serving.
It’s a perfect warm weather salad and can travel well if you’re visiting friends or the park. 🌳
I like that you can make a big batch to feed a crowd or to have leftovers for lunch or snacking. Assuming you’re lucky enough to get to actually get to eat the leftovers yourself. 😉
Be sure to check out the other Cinco de Mayo recipes below from some of my blogging buddies. So many great ideas for your fiesta!
Southwestern orzo salad
A cool, creamy southwestern orzo salad with black beans, veggies, queso fresco and an easy homemade cilantro-lime vinaigrette.
- 8-10 oz. orzo pasta (see notes)
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium zucchini, diced small
- 1 medium bell pepper (I prefer yellow or orange, but any color will do), diced small
- 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese, plus extra for serving
- Creamy cilantro lime dressing (link to recipe below)
- Cook the orzo in salted water, according to package directions.
- In the meantime, add the chopped zucchini to a large bowl.
- Drain the orzo pasta and pour over the chopped raw zucchini in the bowl. This helps soften the zucchini slightly. Let the pasta cool.
- Once cooled, stir in the black beans, peppers and queso fresco. You can refrigerate the salad at this point if you’d like.
- Make the easy creamy cilantro-lime dressing. If making ahead, store it separately. When ready to serve, stir the dressing into the salad, mixing well to combine. Season, to taste, with extra salt and black pepper.
- Serve the orzo salad cold or at room temperature with extra queso fresco crumbled on top.
You need to make this salad in advance to allow the orzo to cool, so please plan accordingly.
I like to get whole wheat orzo when I can find it, but it’s not available in many stores. Also, this recipe calls for 8-10 oz., which is not the whole box if yours comes in a 1 lb. package like mine. It’s about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the box (I eyeball it).
Queso fresco, or queso blanco, is a mild white Mexican cheese. It’s available in most grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, you can substitute a mild feta cheese (a French style one, not a Greek one) or a mild goat cheese.
If you're making this ahead, I recommend you keep the dressing separate and mix it into the pasta salad just before you serve it, so the flavors stay nice and bright and fresh. You can also add some extra lime juice and cilantro to punch up the flavors when serving.
If you want to make extra pasta or double the recipe, be sure to make extra dressing, too!
Here's the link again for the creamy cilantro-lime dressing recipe.
|Amount Per Serving||As Served|
|Calories 349kcal Calories from fat 13|
|% Daily Value|
|Total Fat 1g||2%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Dietary Fiber 10g||40%|
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs:
|Total Fat||Less than||65g|
|Sat Fat||Less than||25g|
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Also, don’t forget about the awesome Amazon gift card giveaway – it’s still open so get your entries in!!