Spinach Orzo Salad with Chicken Meatballs and Chickpeas
Spinach orzo salad, a main dish salad with bite sized chicken meatballs, will have even the meat-eating man in your family smiling.
I’m on an orzo kick. If you’re not familiar with orzo, it’s a small rice-shaped pasta, often used in salads and soups. The Italian name “orzo” means barley because of this tiny pasta’s similarity to the grain in shape and size,.
Orzo is such a fun summer pasta and it’s the perfect size for salads. Just like any other pasta, it is incredibly versatile. Choose whole wheat or regular orzo, whatever your heart desires (or whatever you can find in your grocery store). Try orzo in this bruschetta orzo pasta salad. It’s perfect for summer picnics or potlucks.
This spinach orzo salad combines orzo with spinach, homemade chicken meatballs, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), cucumbers, tomato and feta cheese. It’s dressed with a light vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice.
Packed with protein from the bite-sized meatballs, chickpeas, and feta cheese, this main dish salad is filling but not heavy. The fresh vegetables and bright lemony vinaigrette keep it refreshing and healthy.
You’ll love how the spinach wilts slightly from the heat of the pasta to create this wonderful salad – pasta hybrid dish. The little meatballs are baked in the oven, and are ready in less than 10 minutes.
Somehow this regular cucumber ended up in my groceries. I don’t know if it was left on the checkout belt from a previous customer or if my ever-so-helpful toddler added it my cart, but it is what I came home with and therefore what I ended up using in this salad. I usually scrape out the seeds because I find them to be a bit bitter sometimes. You can use whatever type of cucumber you prefer.
More orzo salad recipes
Like this spinach orzo salad? You may also like one of these delicious orzo salads:
- Orzo Salad with Chicken, Watermelon and Feta
- Creamy Southwestern Orzo Salad (a reader favorite, makes a big batch and keeps well)
- Orzo Salad with Yogurt Dill Dressing
- Orzo Salad with Chicken and Vegetables
- Greek Orzo Salad with Roasted Shrimp
- Mediterranean Orzo Salad from Iowa Girl Eats
- Whole Wheat Orzo Salad with Kale, Chickpeas, Lemon and Feta from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup orzo, uncooked
- one 15 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- one 5-6 ounce container of baby spinach
- 1/3 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
- 1 lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons juice)
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- Preheat oven to 450°F. In a large covered saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat for orzo.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine chicken, egg, parsley, bread crumbs, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. With this mixture, make 24-28 bite sized meatballs (about 1-inch in size).
- Place meatballs on a large rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Brush meatballs lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil or spray with olive oil spray. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until cooked through (165°F internal temp).
- While meatballs are in the oven, prepare the orzo according to package directions. Drain well and dump into a large bowl. Toss orzo with beans, spinach, and feta.
- Prepare dressing in a small bowl by whisking together lemon juice and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Pour over orzo and toss to combine.
- Divide salad between four plates. Top with meatballs, sprinkle with cucumber and tomato, and serve immediately.
- Make ahead tip: Cooked meatballs can be made a day or two in advance. Refrigerate in a covered container. Reheat lightly before adding to salad.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 salad
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 718Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 173mgSodium: 951mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 15gSugar: 9gProtein: 50g
Husband’s take: He loves this salad!
Changes I would make: None are necessary.