Potluck Salad: Orzo and Roasted Carrots

Potluck Salad: Orzo and Roasted Carrots

Summer is here and the invitations are already arriving. I’m talking about the casual summer parties we all get invited to. The whole idea behind these parties is they’re supposed to be simple. So they’re usually potluck parties and they’re usually outdoors. This combination does make the host’s job easier because a good bit of the cooking is handled by the guests. Clean up is usually easier too. In fact, I’ve been known to throw all the plates in the pool and leave them til morning. Which is why I find these events so stress-free as a host. But as a guest, it takes some pre-thinking to get things to go just as smoothly. I usually bring the simplest style of dish in my repertoire. I’m talking about the Potluck Salad.

The Potluck Salad is different from other salads because at its best (in my mind) it’s not a green salad.

When I’m invited to someone’s house – and I’m only responsible for one dish on the buffet table – I want it to be special. Perhaps something colorful. Maybe I’ll feature a special or seasonal ingredient. Mostly I want to be sure that my Potluck Salad is full of fresh, interesting flavors.

Of course, there are other factors to consider when planning a Potluck Salad. These factors may not be as sexy as color or flavor, but they’re vital to success. Primarily your Potluck Salad should hold up well – both in the car and on the table. Also, you always want to make sure there’s plenty to go around. These events usually draw a crowd (when you’re cooking 😉).

As for my current summer invite, I’ve chosen an Orzo-Roast Carrot Salad with Roast Garlic & Dill. However, there are plenty of other great options. Just make sure to build the salad around sturdy ingredients like pasta, grains, legumes, or boldly-colored vegetables. If there’s cooking involved, make sure it can be done well in advance. Your host planned this simple outdoor get-together because he or she wanted the guests to be outdoors – not in the kitchen. Though I do think it’s fine to bring the dressing and any fresh herbs or garnishes packed in separate containers. A little last-minute plating shouldn’t upset the equilibrium too much.

Oh yeah – don’t forget to serve your Potluck Salad on chlorine-proof platters, plates, or bowls if you’re attending a pool party at my house. GREG

Potluck Salad: Orzo and Roasted Carrots

Orzo-Roast Carrot Salad with Roast Garlic & Dill 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 12Source Adapted from Martha Stewart LivingPublished
Orzo-Roast Carrot Salad with Roast Garlic & Dill


  • 3 pound carrots
  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • 10 clove galic
  • kosher salt (as needed)
  • 1 pound dried orzo pasta
  • 2 lemons (zest and juice only)
  • 4 very thinly sliced scallions (whites and light green parts)
  • ½ cup roughly chopped loosely packed fresh dill
  • freshly cracked black pepper (as needed)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the lower shelf. Cut the carrots diagonally into 2‑inch pieces that are about ½‑inch thick (if the carrots are large, cut them in half lengthwise, too). In a large bowl toss the carrots and garlic with 3 tablespoons oil and a big pinch of salt. Spread the carrots onto 2 parchment-covered rimmed baking sheets in as close to a single layer as possible. Use more baking sheets if necessary. Roast until the carrots are very tender and beginning to char, about 25 minutes. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool. Pick out the garlic and squeeze it from their skins into a medium bowl; mince to form a coarse paste. Set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil; add salt. Stir in the orzo; cook until al dente, according to package instructions, about 7 minutes. Drain; while still hot, transfer the orzo to a large bowl, and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Let cool slightly, and add the roasted carrots.

Make the dressing: Meanwhile, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, scallions, and dill to the medium bowl with roasted garlic. Stir to combine; season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad, drizzle with olive oil, serve immediately. 

You may cover the salad and store it in the refrigerator up to one day. Bring to room temperature before serving.