Orzo and Radicchio Salad Cups with Honey Lime Dressing

Summertime, and the living is easy, at least a little longer.

We love a chilled salad, something packed with flavor that we can enjoy over a few meals without any additional cooking. Pasta salads are always at the top of the list, whether a humble macaroni salad, or colorful pasta primavera. They feed a lot, taste wonderful, and satisfy the comfort food cravings. How could they not, since they begin with pasta!

Draft the littlest pasta into service

            At the ready for buffet with friends recently, this salad designed itself. I used lovely little orzo pasta, rice shaped and a bit delicate with a wonderful texture all their own. Because of their tiny size, they also make a great stuffing! For this salad, I rinsed it well under cold water after it was cooked so that it would not be sticky, I wanted a light, summery texture.

Then add a bitter green

            I’ve used radicchio leaves here. The bitterness is offset by the honey in the dressing, but if you don’t care for radicchio, or can’t find it, you can substitute Boston lettuce, or any lettuce with a cup-shaped leaf.

Of course, you can also use real rice! Or another grain if you like, make it your own.

            These little cups are great on a buffet table, or served as a side. There will be comments! But, you can also skip the cups, and serve this citrusy pasta dish in a salad bowl, or packed for a picnic or potluck! It travels well. If you add a bit of protein (shrimp is great here), you can make it a meal.

Orzo and Radicchio Salad Cups with Honey Lime Dressing

  • 1 lb. whole wheat orzo
  • 2 carrots, small dice
  • 2 heads radicchio
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Small bunch of sweet radishes, small chop
  • ¼ cup fruity olive oil
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Zest of two large limes
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp. native honey
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper

            Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the orzo. Cook according to package directions, adding the carrots after a couple of minutes. My pasta cooked in 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water and set aside to completely cool.

            While the pasta cooks, gently remove the leaves from the radicchio, carefully slicing into the base to release the thick part of the leaves. Line a platter with the leaves.

            In a large bowl, combine the cooled orzo, carrots, scallions (reserve a few of the dark slices for garnish), radishes, and pumpkin seeds. 

            Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, zest, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper. Pour over the salad ingredients, taste, and season again with salt and pepper to taste, and mix well. You may need to add a bit more olive oil, especially if your pasta was not totally cooled.

            Scoop the salad into the radicchio, garnish with the tomatoes and reserved scallions. If you don’t feel like fussing with the radicchio cups, just finely shred it and use it as a bed for the salad, or even mix the shreds into the salad!

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This salad is wonderfully elegant and tasty! Thank you!.


    1. Thanks for your kind comments Joanna! They were well received. 💕

  2. Jenna says:

    Such a beautiful presentation Dorothy! I love the idea of individual salad cups for a buffet, so smart and fun! They sound wonderful~

    1. Thanks Jenna! They were quite a hit at my gathering.

  3. Carole says:

    Omgoodness, this looks fantastic! I am excited to try it! whole wheat orzo? I will had to see if the coop has it.

    1. Thank you! That’s where I found mine! Have fun with it!

  4. Anonymous says:

    These are so pretty! Just gorgeous.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Food for the eyes as well as taste! Great idea and love these pretty little radicchio cups!

    1. I like to follow my Chef Mother-in-law’s advice and let them take the first bite with their eyes!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I love everything about this salad: the recipe, the dressing, and above all, the presentation.

  7. Anonymous says:

    We love salad cups such a great mix of flavours and texture …Orzo is not a grain I have come across here yet 🙂

    1. They are fun aren’t they! Orzo is a delightful pasta shaped like rice, sort of. The brand I used was whole wheat, which added a little more flavor.

  8. Bernadette says:

    Love it but how did you keep the radicchio leaves intact?

    1. I spend a little time severing the base with my trusty sharp paring knife. If you start taking the leaf off from the base, it usually slips right off.
      Thanks for stopping by Bernie!

  9. Jovina Coughlin says:

    Wonderful summer dish. Also good for entertaining as a first course.

    1. Thanks Jovina. I think these would be beautiful as a first course served on a pretty little plate!

  10. Nancy says:

    What a fabulous presentation and perfect for entertaining.
    Thank you for all you do!
    ~Nancy from Two Trails One Road
    I’m signing with my name as so many comments on WordPress are coming up anonymous… 🤔

    1. Thank you Nancy!
      I’ve noticed that. I like to be able to put a name to a comment!

  11. Ronit says:

    The salad looks so tasty and refreshing. Love this way of presentation.

    1. Thank you Ronit! I’m always ready to entertain, and eat of course!

  12. Anonymous says:

    What a beautiful meal Dorothy! So many delicious goodies too.

    1. Thank you! We loved these flavors, and the overall lightness of the whole dish.

  13. Jessica says:

    So pretty. I’ve been looking for meal ideas for potlucks for Mom’s Night Outs. These would be great!

    1. Perfect! They are fun to make and eat!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Ooh, Dorothy! This looks so light and refreshing … perfect for these dog days of August!

    1. Love the term dog days. I see my creatures lounging on the porch on a hot afternoon! Shedding, of course!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I love honey lime dressing. It really freshens up a salad.

    1. Thank you! It’s such a lovely flavor combination!

  16. Americaoncoffee says:

    How wonderful and so perfect and light for the hot summer A great socializing idea. ❤️.

    1. Thank you! It was a fun dish!

  17. Anonymous says:

    What a beautiful salad! Love how colorful it is and looks delicious! 🙂 –NancyC

    1. Thanks Nancy! I do like a salad to offer a vibrant visual when I serve it!

  18. Judee says:

    Such a beautiful presentation and healthy meal. I happen to really like radicchio and that honey lime dressing sounds wonderful.

    1. Thank you Jude! Beautiful food that is good for you is always a win all around.

  19. Julia says:

    These are lovely! They are very elegant!

    1. Thank you Julia! They do make a statement.

  20. So pretty! I love radicchio 😋

    1. Thank you! It’s one of my favorites too!

  21. Looks & sounds amazing, Dorothy! 🌞

    1. Thank you Lisa! We really loved these and I’ll certainly make them again.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Salad cups – I had not heard of them before! A brilliant presentation 😀

    1. Thanks! It is really fun to serve a salad this way, and there’s always a few chuckles.

  23. terrie gura says:

    Nice use of the radicchio, Dorothy! I love that bitter bite and the contrast with the honey lime sounds great. I imagine that, if one was careful, it would even be possible to enjoy your salad cups without silverware.

    1. Oh yes, Terrie, if one is careful, or even if not, these can be delicious finger food. I served them recently, and first time around everyone used a large serving spoon. But as the night wore on, and the wine glasses were a little less full, it was fingers all the way!
      Were you there?

      1. terrie gura says:

        Was I there??? Don’t you remember, I was the one licking my fingers after all those delicious salad cups! 😂

      2. How could I forget?💕❤️

  24. sunisanthosh says:

    This meal looks so tempting. 🌝

    1. Thank you so much! We all loved it.

  25. Madalaine says:

    WOW!!! These are so cute!!! What a fabulous way to create individual side pasta salads. Love it! These would look great on a Thanksgiving buffet. Yum!

    1. Thank you Madalaine! They would be wonderful for Thanksgiving, and there’s usually plenty of radicchio around at that time.

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