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Warm Orzo Salad with Lamb Meatballs

What do you mean he don't eat no meat?! That's ok...I make this Warm Orzo Salad with Lamb Meatballs!

I just feel compelled to quote that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding whenever we're cooking lamb.

Kind of obsessing over this pretty-in-pink dish! Bright orzo salad makes a beautiful and hearty base for juicy, tender, and super flavorful lamb meatballs. Sprinkle some fresh herbs and goat cheese on top for an extra boost of color, flavor, and freshness.

This dish is made with ingredients that at first seem sort of random (probably because it was built from what I had in the fridge and pantry), but once combined, create the most magical variety of textures and flavors that marry together so beautifully. I’m excited to share!

This dish is sure to surprise and satisfy! It’s bright and happy, and the flavors are so lovely and savory, which makes it fun to serve for pretty much any occasion: as a one-bowl weeknight meal for the family, at dinner parties, with holiday meals, and at any point throughout the year!

If you try it out, be sure to tag @threebirdsonestove so I can see your pretty-in-pink masterpiece!

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Yield: Serves 6-8


For the Turkey Apple Meatballs:

1 pound ground lamb meat

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 egg

2 tablespoons pignoli nuts

½ cup crumbled goat cheese

¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

½ cup almond flour

For the Warm Orzo Salad:

1 pound orzo

7 cups raw spinach

1 cucumber, peeled, seeds scooped out, and cut into half moons

1 cup beets, cut into cubes

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup cured black olives, pitted and halved

The juice and zest of 1 lemon

¼ cup olive oil

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

For the Meatballs:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix together using your hands until well combined.

  2. Using an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, form 9 meatballs on a parchment paper lined sheet pan.

  3. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the meatballs with tongs halfway through the cook time.

  4. Remove from the oven and place atop the finished orzo salad. (instructions below).

Prepare the Orzo Salad as the Meatballs Cook:

  1. Boil the orzo according to the directions on the package.

  2. While the orzo cooks, add the spinach, cucumber, beets, cranberries, and olives to a large wide bowl.

  3. Preserve a cup of pasta water from the orzo, and then strain and immediately pour it over the ingredients in the bowl and stir to combine. Add the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste, and then continue to stir to combine until the orzo reaches a bright shade of pink. If desired, add pasta water one tablespoon at a time, stirring between each addition.

  4. Top the orzo salad with the lamb meatballs. Garnish with fresh parsley and mint, and more crumbled goat cheese if desired. Serve warm.

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