Spinach Orzo Salad with Cranberries and Goat Cheese

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Spinach Orzo Salad is filled with cranberries, creamy goat cheese, tender pasta, and plenty of fresh spinach is tossed in a tangy sweet dressing. This can be served immediately or kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days – making this an awesome make-ahead meal for lunch or dinner.

Last time we sailed with Princess Cruises when Sean and I were in the British Isles, our friends kept talking about the cranberry pasta in the International Cafe. After hearing about it so much, the next time it was available, I had to try it.

It was so very good! Tender pasta in a sweetly tangy dressing, with tart fresh cranberries and sliced almonds. Simple, fresh. and delicious.

Cranberry Almond Orzo Salad - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

The International Cafe is part of the all-inclusive dining options onboard each cruise ship. The cafe is open 24 hours a day and it’s one of my favorites places to grab a bite to eat each time we cruise.

The morning selections include pastries and fresh croissants, breakfast sandwiches, quiche, fresh fruit, yogurt parfaits, and more. Later in the day, you’ll find a selection of small bite meals and other sweet and savory treats.

The selections change daily, so when you find your favorite food there, you’ll want to make the most of it.

Ask me how I know this? <cough> Nutella donuts <cough> I cruised 3x before I managed to snag a much-talked-about Nutella donut and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve learned now to check the selections daily.

Spinach Pasta Salad with Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese is loaded with flavor! - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

As soon as we were on the ship for our last cruise (literally, as soon as we embarked), my sister Jenny and I stopped by the International Cafe and picked up some of the pasta salad, along with a sandwich, and a couple of coffees to take to our room and snack on as we were getting unpacked and settled.

And I’m happy to tell you that Princess’s Cranberry Orzo Salad was every bit as delicious as I remembered.

Spinach Orzo Salad with Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese is a family favorite! - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

When I got home last week, I immediately recreated the salad for my family. As always, I loved it, but my guys? The kids thought the fresh cranberries were too tart. (Crazy kids!)

So, the next time I made the salad, I went with dried cranberries and it was a win across the board.

I like this salad every bit as much with dried cranberries as I do with fresh cranberries – and that’s a huge win, since fresh cranberries aren’t available more than a few weeks a year.

(And unless you’re lucky enough to have cranberries stashed in the freezer, you’ll be stuck waiting until the holidays to try this awesome salad.)

Spinach Orzo Salad with Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

I took this salad to the next level by adding a generous portion of fresh baby spinach and warm chicken. Both the chicken and the spinach made it a heartier meal for my family.

And as far as my guys are concerned, the meat elevates the pasta salad from side dish to main dish status.

For what it’s worth though, the chicken in this salad really is optional, the salad is delicious without it.

Spinach Pasta Salad with Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Spinach Orzo Salad

  1. Toast the orzo in 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium heat, about 5 minutes, until golden brown. Add 4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover with lid. 7-8 minutes. Drain any liquid, fluff with fork.
  2. Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked orzo, cranberries, almonds, and cooked chicken – if desired.
  3. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine the oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to coat.
  4. Top with goat cheese and toss lightly. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Kitchen tip: I’ve used both plain goat cheese and a honey goat cheese for this pasta and they’re both delicious.

However, I really loved the added flavor from the hint of honey in the specialty goat cheese. If you can find it at your store, give it a try!

 

Spinach Pasta Salad with Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese is loaded with flavor! - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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Spinach Pasta Salad with Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Spinach Orzo Salad with Cranberries and Goat Cheese

5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 tablespoon light olive oil
  • 8 ounces orzo pasta
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup Craisins or dried cranberries
  • 2-4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • Optional: 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped bite-size

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic or champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Toast the orzo in 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium heat, about 5 minutes, until golden brown. Add 4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover with lid. 7-8 minutes. Drain any liquid, fluff with fork.
  • Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked orzo, cranberries, almonds, and cooked chicken - if desired.
  • In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine the oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to coat.
  • Top with goat cheese and toss lightly. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Notes

Kitchen tip: I’ve used both plain goat cheese and a honey goat cheese for this pasta and they’re both delicious. However, I really loved the added flavor from the hint of honey in the specialty goat cheese. If you can find it at your store, give it a try!

Nutrition

Calories: 415kcal · Carbohydrates: 43g · Protein: 16g · Fat: 20g · Saturated Fat: 3g · Cholesterol: 40mg · Sodium: 476mg · Potassium: 360mg · Fiber: 3g · Sugar: 12g · Vitamin A: 1980IU · Vitamin C: 5.6mg · Calcium: 70mg · Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @WPRecipeMaker or tag #wprecipemaker!

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Spinach Pasta Salad with Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese is loaded with flavor! - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Want to check out more of our Medallion Class cruise through the Caribbean? This Jalapeno Honey Butter is inspired by Planks BBQ onboard the Caribbean Princess. And The Dirty Banana milkshake/cocktail is a favorite on every ship.

Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Princess Cruises to share my travels with you. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information about Princess Cruises and/or to book a cruise visit their website.

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Sharon says

    I made this for dinner tonight using Bleu cheese for a substitution as you suggested. This was delicious and definitely a keeper. Thank you for sharing!5 stars

  2. Lana says

    Do I put the orzo on the spinach while warm?
    I want to bring it to a gathering Wednesday and thought I would make it Tuesday night. Will the spinach be wilted?