My family is a big spaghetti and meatballs family, especially my 2-year old, but I get a bit sick of it honestly. Especially in the summer, I sometimes want something lighter. So I came up with this fun turkey meatball orzo salad! It’s still pasta and meatballs but has a much more summer feel to it. It’s light, but still plenty filling for dinner and is also great as a lunch option.
I found that this recipe works best if you keep the meatballs minimal. So there isn’t any filler in these guys. No breadcrumbs or eggs or anything. Just turkey and spices. That means you have to be a bit more gentle with them as they cook, but they should really hold up fine as you can see from the pictures.
I guess you could substitute pork or beef for the turkey here, but this pasta salad is one of the few times that I actually appreciate the lighter flavors of turkey. Try it out if you are in a summer recipe rut!
- Want a vegetarian pasta salad? Try this sun-dried tomato orzo salad!
Turkey Meatball Orzo Salad
- 1 pound lean turkey
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 8 oz. orzo pasta
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- 2 bell peppers, various colors
- 2 roma tomatoes, diced
- 4-6 oz. feta cheese, cubed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh basil, garnish
- In a medium bowl, stir together turkey with dried basil, salt, pepper, and paprika. Make very small meatballs with the mixture.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to form an even layer of oil on the skillet. Once it’s shimmering hot, add the turkey meatballs. Cook for 6-7 minutes total, turning occasionally, until they are cooked through.
- Remove meatballs from the skillet. If skillet is very dry, add another drizzle of olive oil. Add bell peppers to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes. Use the moisture from the peppers to scrape up any bits on the pan. Remove from heat while they still have a little crunch to them.
- Cook orzo according to package in boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss with about a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent sticking.
- Toss together orzo with meatballs, cooked peppers, fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, and fresh basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or store in the fridge for a day or two. It’s great cold as well.
Did you make this recipe?
Turkey Meatball Orzo Salad
Like I mentioned, I kept this meatball very minimal. Just some spices go in with lean turkey meat.
Make small meatballs out of the mixture, maybe a heaping teaspoon, and cook them in a skillet over medium heat with a good amount of oil. They might stick a little bit but should release from the pan as they brown. They should cook through in 6-7 minutes since they are on the small side.
Meanwhile, you can cook the orzo. You don’t need a full pound for this recipe. If you used a full pound, the other ingredients would get lost.
Drain the orzo and rinse it with cold water. Then drizzle in some olive oil to prevent it from sticking.
When the meatballs are done, add in the chopped peppers. You could add some red onion too if that’s your think. It’s a flexible recipe.
Cook these just for a few minutes and use them to scrape up any bits stuck to the skillet. They should definitely still have some crunch on them in the salad.
Toss everything together with fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, and a handful of fresh basil. Season it with salt and pepper to taste and you’re in business!
I don’t really think this pasta salad needs a dressing. The olive oil that the peppers cook in and the drizzle on the pasta plus the acidity from the tomatoes works out well.
It’s a fresh, light salad that would be a hit on any summer dinner table. Enjoy!