This Spanish orzo pasta salad is a delicious way to enjoy a fresh tasting summer salad which takes advantage of in-season-now crisp green beans, sweet cherry tomatoes and baby new potatoes. Tuna adds a little seaside flavor and spices like smoked paprika and cumin add smokiness and depth. Not a fan of tuna? Well, it’s easily replaced with capers — something that will please your vegetarian or vegan friends.
Why this Spanish orzo pasta salad recipe works?
First of all, new potatoes and green beans are a dream team. They were born to be together. Add sweet summer tomatoes… you still have dream team. Then there are some flavor makers. Crumble in some high-quality tuna and a dressing with earthy spices, plus some fresh garlic and a squeeze of lemon (both of which, in my opinion, make everything better) then finally an excellent-tasting extra virgin olive oil… AND you’ve got a winning team. Y E S — a simple Spanish-inspired dressing with subtle smokey flavors transforms an ordinary pasta salad recipe into a surprising ¡Ay, caramba!
How to serve this Spanish orzo pasta salad
Another surprise is that this pasta salad can be served warm OR at room temperature. And of course, like all pasta salads, you can also enjoy it as leftovers. I like to enjoy this as a main meal pasta salad, but it can also be served as a side dish with grilled vegetables or other favorite BBQ items and some crusty bread.
- 300 g small new potatoes (I used a mix of white and red skinned)
- 300 g green beans, trimmed and halved
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 190 g jar quality white tuna, drained (see notes)
- 1 cup orzo (risoni pasta) (200 g)
- 250 g cherry tomatoes, quartered
- handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- couple pinches cayenne pepper
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife. Using a slotted spoon, remove potatoes from the boiling water and transfer to a plate. Do not discard water.
Add the green beans to the pot and cook until crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a colander and rinse/soak with ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the orzo to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente (according to package instructions, about 8-10 minutes); drain well.
While the pasta cooks, cut potatoes in half length-wise or quarters (depending on size), and transfer to the bowl with green beans. Add the red onion and the crumbled tuna.
In a small bowl, add the dressing ingredients and mix together until well combined.
Now add the cooked pasta to the bowl and pour over the dressing; toss to combine. Fold in the cherry tomatoes and fresh parsley serve warm or at room temperature.
- I like to buy albacore tuna fillets packed in olive as it tastes better -- the oil seals in the flavor! I also drain the oil as I like to use my own favorite olive oil for salad dressings. When buying tuna, look for the blue MSC label as this means it is certified as sustainable.
- If you are a fan of smokey flavors, feel free to add up to 1/4 teaspoon more smoked paprika. I prefer a more subtle flavor.
- MAKE IT VEGAN: Omit the tuna, and replace it with 1-2 tablespoons capers (in brine) or a handful of Kalamata olives (pitted and thinly sliced).
If you make this Spanish Orzo Pasta Salad recipe, I’d love to hear how it turned out for you! Be sure to rate it and leave a comment below to let me know! Especially if you have tips for other readers. Or take a picture and tag me on Instagram @ellerepublic and don’t forget to hashtag #ellerepublic so I don’t miss it!