Southwestern Orzo Pasta Salad with Cilantro – Lime Dressing is a fun, colorful and super flavorful addition to your Southwestern or Mexican-inspired meal!
Southwestern Orzo Pasta Salad with black beans, corn, tomatoes and red onion is the perfect, easy summer salad! The Cilantro and Lime Dressing has fresh jalapeno for the perfect spicy kick! It’s a great lunch, light meal or south-of-the-border side dish.
What is orzo pasta?
Orzo pasta has to be “up there” on the list of perfect foods. It’s one of my favorite ingredients because it cooks quickly and is so versatile making it a great addition to salads, side dishes and soups.
Orzo means “barley” in Italian but it’s not a grain at all. It’s a rice-shaped pasta the Italians classify as “pastina,” a category of small pasta shapes. Although it’s shaped like rice, it’s not gluten-free like rice. However, gluten-free orzo is available from DeLallo.
Because orzo pasta cooks so quickly, it’s important to use a quality brand that will hold its shape.
How to make Southwestern Orzo Pasta Salad with Cilantro – Lime Dressing:
You’ll love how easy and versatile this orzo pasta salad is!
- Start by cooking the orzo pasta according to the package directions but be careful to not overcook it. All pasta, no matter the shape, should still have some resistance when you bite into it. Perfectly cooked pasta is referred to as being cooked “al dente.”
- Drain and rinse it under cold running tap water to cool it off quickly. Let it drain again and toss it with a little oil.
- Halved grape or cherry tomatoes
- Corn (I used leftover grilled corn but frozen, thawed corn kernels will work fine)
- Red onion (you could also use scallions)
- Canned black beans that you’ve drained and rinsed
- Diced avocado would make a great addition!
- Prep the dressing ingredients:
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Olive oil
- FRESH lime juice (makes such a difference!)
- Chopped fresh jalapeno
- Combine the ingredients in a food processor or blender and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Combine the salad ingredients and pour on the dressing!
- Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges.
Delish, friends! And so easy!
More orzo recipes you’ll love!
- Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
- Cold-Fighting Chicken Soup with Kale and Orzo
- Southwestern Chicken, Orzo and Black Bean Skillet
- Creamy One Pot Chicken and Orzo “Risotto” with Bacon
- Baked Fish with Cherry Tomato-Olive Sauce and Lemon Chive Asiago Orzo
- Baked Orzo with Pesto, Peas, Prosciutto and Mascarpone
Serve this salad with:
- Baked Veracruz-Style Fish (Pescado A La Veracruzana)
- Shrimp in Avocado Butter
- Grilled Citrus Chili Shrimp with Mango – Pineapple Salsa
- Chorizo Brown Rice Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Peach Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
- Chicken, Brown Rice and Cheese-Stuffed Poblanos
Helpful tools and equipment (Affiliate Links):
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.
- 1 pound orzo pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (1 pound)
- 2 cups corn kernels (from 3 cooked ears)
- 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup filled to heaping)
- 1 can (15-ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium jalapeno pepper, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cilantro sprigs and lime wedges, for garnish
- SALAD: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.
- Add the orzo and cook according to the package directions, being sure to not overcook.
- Drain in a sieve or colander and immediately rinse with cold running tap water.
- Drain again and toss with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the tomatoes, corn, red onion and black beans and stir to combine.
- DRESSING: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
- Pour dressing over salad and stir well. Serve immediately garnished with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.
MAKE AHEAD: Combine salad to the point of adding the dressing. Cover and refrigerate. Make the dressing and store separately. When ready to serve, add the dressing and stir.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 509Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 352mgCarbohydrates: 67gFiber: 7gSugar: 15gProtein: 11g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.