Orzo salad with grilled halloumi and green peas
There is something so satisfying about a delicious orzo salad with the combination of crunchy halloumi. This super easy recipe is perfect for lunch or quick dinner.
Orzo salad with halloumi
I initially made this delicious orzo salad all the way back in 2014 and it was in dire need of an upgrade, so I recently remade this delicious cold pasta salad. It’s actually very flexible as you can eat it either cold or warm. Whichever you prefer.
If you’ve not cooked with orzo before; this is a very small type of pasta. Almost like rice as the grains are somewhat similar in shape and size. The flavor of the orzo is however fastly different. You treat it the same way as you would any other kind of pasta, so cook it in a large pan of salted water till it is al dente.
I kept my orzo salad fairly simple and just added green peas, edamame beans (soy beans), arugula and fresh basil. And the grilled halloumi of course. Now if you want to spice things up a little you can definitely add some other ingredients into the mix. The pasta salad would also be delicious with some extra cherry tomatoes for instance. Or a small red onion which you could eat raw or if you don’t like raw onion, you can fry it on medium heat for a few minutes.
In this case I have cooked the green peas and the edamame in some hot water, but if you add additional things like the red onion you can cook the peas and beans also in the same pan. Just to keep it simple.
The hero of this orzo salad is of course the halloumi. If you’ve never worked with this type of cheese before it is good to know that halloumi has a high melting point. That makes it ideal for grilling or baking. It holds it’s shape rather well. It’s a funny kind of cheese as it can be rather squeeky if you eat it. It’s not everyones favorites but I love the crunchy element of it and in this orzo salad recipe it is the key element to making this dish super delicious.
Depending on where you buy the halloumi, it can be plain or you sometimes get a herby halloumi which includes usually mint. Which is actually traditional if I’m correct.
Halloumi is not so good if you eat it straight out of the package, or at least that is definitely not my favorite way of eating it. It’s not meant to be eaten that way anyway. You want it to be golden brown and crispy. Once baked, grilled or fried it becomes deliciously soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside.
Preparing the orzo salad
Now to make the orzo salad you add the cooked orzo and the vegetables to a large bowl. You cut the halloumi in cubes and you place a frying pan or a grill pan on medium-high heat. If you prefer grill marks on your cheese you can use the grill pan, which also requires less oil. I do prefer to bake it in a pan and I like to shallow fry the halloumi. In order to do that I add a small layer of oil to the non-stick frying pan and let it get hot. Check if it is hot enough by letting a small piece of bread fry. If it browns quickly the oil is hot enough. It should roughly be around 180˚C or 350 ˚F if you want to measure the temperature.
One thing to keep in mind is that halloumi can spatter wildly in the pan. In order to prevent at least some of that happening you can drain the cheese on paper towels first. But it will still spatter in the oil. I use a lid to prevent the oil going everywhere but be careful when baking the halloumi. It will be easier if you use a grill pan as there is no oil or little oil used there and so there will be less spattering happening. Use a hot gril and stay with the pan while you grill the halloumi.
Once the halloumi is golden brown you let it drain on paper towels as it will crisp up after baking. Add the halloumi at the last minute to the orzo pasta so it stays crisp. It will loose some of it’s crispness after having been mixed with the pasta but it will still be delicious.
For the dressing I like to keep it fairly simple and I use a base of mayonnaise and mix that with half an avocado and some lemon juice. If you want to spice it up a bit you can add a teaspoon of wasabi but that is totally optional. Mix the dressing through the pasta before adding the halloumi.
You can keep the orzo salad in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days. Do keep the halloumi separately if you do. I like to fry the halloumi at the last minute but you can definitely mix it in. It will just be less crispy.
Fan of the humble pasta salad? Check out this Greek pasta salad
Orzo salad with halloumi and green peas
- 150 g orzo pasta
- 100 g soy beans edamame
- 100 g green peas
- 200 g halloumi
- 75 g arugula
- basil for serving
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1/2 avocado
- 1,5 tbsp lemon juice
- salt & pepper
- 1 tsp wasabi optional
- Cook the orzo according to package instructions, drain and rinse under cold water. Add a little oil to prevent sticking and leave to cool
- Briefly cook or blanch the beans and peas, drain and leave to cool
- Cut the halloumi into smaller pieces and quickly fry in a pan. Leave to drain on kitchen paper.
- Make a dressing by combining the ingredients. You can mash the avocado with a fork but the dressing will be smoothest by using a stick blender to add it all together.
- Add all ingredients together except the halloumi and salad and mix to combine
- When serving add the salad leaves and the halloumi on top. Sprinkle some basil over the top
The nutritional values above are calculated per portion. The details are based on standard nutritional tables and do not constitute a professional nutritional advice.