Orzo Salad with Chickpeas and Kale
Orzo Salad with Chickpeas and Kale is a delicious combination that also has Feta and lemon adding amazing flavors.See tips below for making a lower-carb and gluten-free version of this salad. (If anyone is looking for Whole Wheat Orzo Salad with Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Feta, and Herb Vinaigrette you can use the link to find the archived version of that recipe.)
A few years ago I discovered 100% Whole Wheat Orzo Pasta, and I’ve used it to make a few tasty salads since then, including this delicious Orzo Salad with Chickpeas and Kale. And this salad also has Feta cheese and a lemony dressing to give it lots of flavor.
Of course it won’t surprise anyone that I took a fantastic-sounding salad with spinach and switched out the spinach for kale. I used regular curly kale so we trimmed it and wilted the kale for a minute, but if you have Organic Baby Kale you could just give the kale a few rough chops and throw it in the salad.
We also added some cumin into the dressing for this salad, which gave it a bit of a Mediterranean flavor. No matter what version of this salad you end up with, we thought this delightful combination of flavors was a perfect meatless meal.
What ingredients do you need for this recipe?
(This is only a list of ingredients; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- Whole Wheat Orzo (affiliate link)
- salt for pasta cooking water
- Olive Oil (affiliate link)
- canned garbanzo beans
- small red onion
- crumbled Feta cheese
- lemon zest (zest the lemon first and then squeeze the juice)
- lemon juice
- white balsamic vinegar (affiliate link)
- ground cumin (affiliate link)
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
What is Orzo?
If you’re not familiar with orzo, it’s a tiny pasta shaped similar to rice but slightly bigger. It’s often used in soups and pilafs, but it’s also a perfect pasta salad ingredient because it lets the pasta take a supporting role and puts the spotlight on the other ingredients.
Where can you find Whole Wheat Orzo?
In Salt Lake I can find Whole Wheat Orzo at Whole Foods. You can also get Whole Wheat Orzo (affiliate link) at Amazon.com if you don’t find it in your store, or just use one of the alternatives mentioned.
How can you make this orzo salad lower in carbs or gluten-free?
Orzo is made with wheat, but for a gluten-free alternative I think brown rice would also be great in this salad. And if you want a lower-carb version of this tasty salad, just make some of my Easy Cauliflower Rice and use that instead of orzo. Of course with chickpeas, this salad will never be super low in carbs, but you could use fewer chickpeas if you prefer.
How to make Orzo Salad with Chickpeas and Kale:
(This is only a summary of the steps for the recipe; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- Cook the orzo in boiling salted water and then drain well and let it cool. (Be sure to follow package directions for cooking time and don’t overcook!)
- Dump a can of garbanzo beans into a colander, rinse well with cold water, and let them drain.
- We used a whole bunch of curly kale which was four cups of packed kale after it was trimmed. You could definitely get by with less kale.
- For regular kale, heat a tiny bit of oil in a hot pan, add the kale, and wilt it for a minute or two. (If you’re using Organic Baby Kale, just chop it up and use it raw.
- Finely chop half of a red onion.
- Measure the crumbled Feta cheese.
- Mix together the lemon zest and juice, white balsamic vinegar (affiliate link), ground cumin (affiliate link), salt, and pepper and then whisk in the olive oil to make the dressing. (This might be more dressing than you need, but it’s delicious on cooked vegetables or green salad.)
- I meant to take a picture of the orzo, kale, garbanzos, and red onion mixed together with the dressing before I gently mixed in the Feta, but you will have to use your imagination for that step!
- Be careful to mix this gently so you don’t end up with mush!
- Serve right away. This will also stay good in the fridge for a day or two.
More Tasty Salads with Pasta:
Weekend Food Prep:
This Orzo Salad recipe has been added to a category called Weekend Food Prep to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!
- 1 cup whole wheat orzo, cooked according to package directions and drained well
- salt for pasta cooking water
- 4 cups fresh kale, chopped (see notes)
- 1 tsp. olive oil, for pan used to wilt the kale
- one 15.5 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained well
- 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
- 3/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese
- 1 T lemon zest (see notes)
- 3 T lemon juice
- 2 T white balsamic vinegar (see notes)
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil, add several generous pinches of salt and cook the orzo according to package directions, being careful not to overcook.
- Drain into a fine-mesh colander and let the orzo cool while you prep the other directions.
- If using a bunch of curly kale, cut the kale away from the stalks and coarsely chop. (If needed, wash kale with a salad spinner and spin dry.)
- Heat the tsp. of olive oil in a large heavy frying pan over medium high heat, add the kale all at once and turn over until it wilts, not more than 1-2 minutes.
- Immediately put the kale in a bowl large enough to hold all the salad ingredients. (If you’re using Earthbound Farm Ready-to-use Organic Mixed Baby Kales, it can just be coarsely chopped and used in the salad without wilting.)
- Drain the garbanzo beans into a colander placed in the sink, rinse well with cold water until no more foam appears, and let beans drain until they are quite dry. (Blot with paper towels if needed.)
- Finely chop half a red onion, and crumble enough Feta to make 3/4 cup.
- Mix together the lemon juice, lemon zest, white balsamic vinegar, cumin, salt, and pepper, and then whisk in the olive oil to make the dressing.
- When the orzo has cooled, add it to the bowl with the wilted kale.
- Add the garbanzo beans and finely finely diced red onion and gently mix to combine.
- Add dressing a few tablespoons at a time and gently stir until all the ingredients are well-coated with dressing. (You probably won’t need all the dressing.)
- Gently stir in the crumbled Feta and serve.
- This did not keep especially well overnight in the refrigerator. Store the cooked orzo, drained garbanzos, chopped onion, crumbled feta, and extra dressing separately if you want to make more than you'll eat at one time. When you want to make the second salad, wilt the rest of the kale and mix ingredients together.
I used about about 5 oz. kale leaves. If you don't have white balsamic vinegar (affiliate link) just substitute any type of mild white vinegar. One large lemon should be enough for 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
This recipe adapted from Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Everyday. (affiliate link)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 498Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 6.6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16.2gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 729mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 11gSugar: 9.8gProtein: 18g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
I made this Orzo Salad with Chickpeas and Kale more carb-conscious by using more kale in proportion to the amount of pasta, and you could switch out the orzo for Cauliflower Rice to make it even lower in carbs, but a salad with chickpeas is probably too high in carbs for strict low-carb eating plans. Whole Wheat Orzo Pasta is a great product for phase 2 or 3 of the original South Beach Diet, but you might need to use less cheese to fit the fat guidelines for South Beach.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Salad Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.
Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This Orzo Salad was first posted in 2012. It was last updated with more information in 2024.