Southwestern Orzo Pasta Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

4.86 from 7 votes
45 minutes
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Southwestern Orzo Pasta Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing is a fun, colorful and super flavorful addition to your Southwestern or Mexican-inspired meal!

Photo of Southwestern Orzo Pasta Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing in white serving bowl garnished with lime wedges and cilantro.

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.

Close-up photo of Southwestern Orzo Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing in white serving bowl. in serving bowl.

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.

Photo of orzo pasta spilling out of a glass jar.

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.
  • Add:
    • 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!

Photo of ingredients for Southwestern Orzo Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing in glass bowl.

  • Prep the dressing ingredients:
    • Chopped fresh cilantro
    • Olive oil
    • FRESH lime juice (makes such a difference!)
    • Chopped fresh jalapeno
    • Garlic

Photo of ingredients for cilantro lime salad dressing in glass bowls.

  • Combine the ingredients in a food processor or blender and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Photo of cilantro lime dressing in food processor.

  • Combine the salad ingredients and pour on the dressing!

Photo of orzo salad being stirred together in glass bowl with white spoon.

  • Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

Photo of Southwestern Orzo Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing in white serving bowl garnished with cilantro and lime.

Delish, friends!  And so easy!

Close-up photo of Southwestern Orzo Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing in white serving bowl with utensils.

Enjoy!

Photo of Southwestern Orzo Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing - Overhead shot in white serving bowl garnished with lime wedges and cilantro.

More orzo recipes you’ll love!

Serve this salad with:

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Southwestern Orzo Pasta Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

4.86 from 7 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef's Kitchen
Southwestern Orzo Pasta Salad with Cilantro - Lime Dressing is a fun, colorful and super flavorful addition to your Southwestern or Mexican-inspired meal!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Side Dishes - Salads
Cuisine Southwestern / Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 538 kcal

Ingredients
  

Salad

  • Salt
  • 1 pound orzo pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes - (1 pint) halved
  • 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

Dressing

  • 1 bunch cilantro - with tender stems, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper - coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic - coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • Cilantro sprigs and lime wedges - for garnish

Instructions
 

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.

Notes

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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 538kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Sodium: 124mg | Potassium: 404mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 393IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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4.86 from 7 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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2 Comments

  1. I made this salad last night to go with the Shrimp in Avocado Butter, also from this site. It was a hit with my family. I made the salad and dressing in the morning and then tossed it all together right before dinner. I used fresh corn but in the winter, frozen corn would work just fine too. Full of bright southwestern flavors. Leftovers were great today for lunch. I love to cook but sometimes don’t have the time, so this salad fit the bill perfectly. Better than a restaurant my family says!

    1. Thanks so much, Linda! Glad you and your family enjoyed and “better than a restaurant” is the best compliment I could receive. Thanks again!