25 minutes

Orzo Pesto Salad

This easy and delicious orzo pesto salad is perfect for your next summer BBQ. With just a handful of simple ingredients, this easy side dish is full of flavor.

Cold pasta salads are a favorite side dish for any summer cookout. They are a great meal prep option for work lunches, or to pack in your kiddo’s lunchbox. This orzo pesto pasta salad is full of fresh flavors that are perfect for the summer months. Made with just a handful of ingredients, like basil pesto, juicy cherry tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and fresh mozzarella pearls, this simple orzo pesto salad recipe is easy and delicious. Serve this with pesto butter salmon for a perfect weeknight meal that your whole family will love.

For other simple summer salad recipes, try my arugula burrata salad with balsamic glaze, or this delicious buffalo chicken caesar salad. If it’s pasta you want, you can’t go wrong with my cajun chicken orzo or cavatappi mac and cheese.

A spoon holding a scoop of orzo pesto pasta salad, with a bowl of pasta salad in the background.

You Will Love This

  • This easy pesto orzo pasta salad can be made with homemade pesto or store-bought pesto sauce for a quick and simple dish.
  • This pesto orzo salad recipe is a great use for your summer garden veggies! It’s delicious with summer-sweet tomatoes and crispy cucumbers. It would be equally tasty with small pieces of bell pepper, fresh baby spinach or cut-up cooked green beans. Use whatever fresh veggies you have on hand!
  • This pasta salad can be eaten warm or cold.

Ingredients

Ingredients for orzo pesto salad on a marble background.

To make orzo pesto salad, you will need the following simple ingredients:

  • Cooked orzo pasta: I love orzo pasta in this recipe, but any small pasta shapes will work. Farfalle (the bowties), fusilli (small corkscrews) or penne pasta would be great!
  • Olive oil
  • Basil pesto: I used homemade basil pesto, following my favorite pesto recipe. Substitute store-bought pesto for a simple weeknight dish!
  • Sweet cherry or grape tomatoes: I halved whole cherry tomatoes for this recipe to make them more bite-sized.
  • Seedless cucumbers: English or Persian cucumbers work perfectly.
  • Fresh mozzarella pearls: You could substitute feta cheese or even Parmesan cheese.
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: Kalamata olives or toasted pine nuts would be a yummy garnish!

Instructions

Step One: Put a large pot of water on the stove top over medium-high heat. Add a big pinch of salt to the water and bring it to a boil. Add the orzo pasta and cook according to package directions, until the pasta is al dente.

Step Two: While the orzo cooks, prepare the vegetables. Wash and halve the fresh tomatoes, dice the cucumbers, and slice or tear the basil into small pieces. Cut the mozzarella pearls into bite-sized pieces.

Step Three: When the orzo is al dente, strain the pasta and run it under cold water to stop the cooking process. Add the orzo to a large bowl and toss it with the extra virgin olive oil. This will help to keep the pasta from clumping. Drizzle the pesto over the pasta and stir well to combine.

A glass bowl with cooked orzo with pesto dressing on a marble background.

Step Four: Add the tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese to the pasta salad. Toss well to mix all the ingredients.

A glass bowl with layers of cucumber, tomatoes and mozzarella, not yet stirred together.

Step Five: Top the pasta salad with fresh basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Orzo pesto pasta salad in a glass bowl on a marble background. Leaves of basil and a dish of cherry tomatoes are to the side.

Storage

This pasta salad is great to prep ahead! Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Let it come up to room temperature for a few minutes before serving, so the pasta doesn’t stick together.

A close up view of orzo pesto pasta salad, with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and basil.
Orzo pesto pasta salad in a glass bowl on a marble background. Leaves of basil and a dish of cherry tomatoes are to the side.

Orzo Pesto Salad

This easy and delicious orzo pesto salad is perfect for your next summer bbq. With just a handful of simple ingredients, this easy side dish is full of flavor.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 316 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups dried orzo pasta one pound box
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces basil pesto homemade or store bought
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 Persian cucumber
  • 8 ounces mozzarella pearls
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Put a large pot of water on the stove top over medium-high heat. Add a big pinch of salt to the water and bring it to a boil. Add the orzo pasta and cook according to package directions, until the pasta is al dente.
  • While the orzo cooks, prepare the vegetables. Wash and halve the fresh tomatoes, dice the cucumbers, and slice or tear the basil into small pieces. Cut the mozzarella pearls into bite-sized pieces.
  • When the orzo is al dente, strain the pasta and run it under cold water to stop the cooking process. Add the orzo to a large bowl and toss it with the extra virgin olive oil. This will help to keep the pasta from clumping. Drizzle the pesto over the pasta and stir well to combine.
  • Add the tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese to the pasta salad. Toss well to mix all the ingredients.
  • Top the pasta salad with fresh basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition

Calories: 316kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 13gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 385mgPotassium: 184mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 640IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 189mgIron: 1mg
Keyword caprese pasta salad, pesto orzo salad, pesto pasta salad
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