Pesto Orzo Salad is a simple recipe with orzo pasta tossed in a tangy homemade pesto, juicy cherry tomatoes, and a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese. A refreshingly delicious salad and a crowd-pleaser!
You should definitely give this Pesto Orzo Pasta Salad a try! Why, you ask? It's a refreshing, wholesome dish perfect for those sweltering summer days. Plus, it's super easy to whip up which means less time in the kitchen, and more time enjoying the sunshine.
Now this Pesto Orzo is made with a homemade pesto that's packed with fresh, aromatic flavors! It's what transforms a simple dish into something truly special. That being said, you can definitely use a good quality store-bought pesto to make this salad.
This Mediterranean orzo salad has rice-shaped orzo pasta, creamy pesto sauce, fresh tomatoes with a sprinkle of feta cheese, and sliced basil leaves. This salad is the perfect choice whether you're having a backyard BBQ or want a quick and satisfying meal.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe:
This pesto orzo salad recipe is:
- Easy to Make with Simple Ingredients
- Perfect for Any Occasion
Here's all you need to make this easy orzo pesto salad:
*Scroll below to the recipe card for ingredient measurements.
- Orzo pasta
- Basil leaves
- Feta cheese
- Lemon zest
How to Make Pesto Orzo Salad
*Scroll below for the printable recipe card and ingredient measurements.
Cook the orzo pasta: Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the orzo pasta until al-dente or for about 7-8 minutes. Once cooked, drain and rinse the pasta with cold water and set it aside to cool.
Prepare your ingredients: While your pasta is cooling, take this time to halve your cherry tomatoes, crumble your feta cheese, and finely chop your fresh basil leaves. Zest your lemon and set these ingredients aside.
Mix your salad: In a large bowl, toss the cooled orzo pasta with pesto, halved cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, lemon zest, and finely chopped basil leaves.
Serve: Serve the salad immediately or refrigerate it for an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together. Enjoy your refreshing and delightful orzo salad!
- Use my fresh pesto recipe for the best flavor. It would take extra few minutes but will be worth it, I promise!
- Make sure to cook your orzo until it's just al dente. This means it should still have a slight bite to it. If it's overcooked, the orzo can become mushy.
- After combining all your ingredients, let the salad sit in the fridge for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Adjust seasoning before serving. You can add some fresh lemon juice or salt to brighten the salad up a bit. If the pasta seems dry add more pesto or some extra virgin olive oil.
- Add your favorite veggies like diced red onion, chopped sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, or bell pepper for the crunch.
What To Serve With Orzo Salad?
This delightful orzo pesto pasta salad is as versatile as it is delicious. Here are some tasty suggestions to take this easy orzo salad serving to the next level:
- Grilled Protein: It pairs beautifully with grilled chicken, fish, tofu, and chickpeas for a balanced, nutritious meal.
- As a Picnic Side: Given its refreshing flavor, it's perfect for a picnic or barbecue side dish. It's a crowd-pleaser!
- On a Bed of Greens: For an extra dose of veggies, serve your orzo salad over a bed of fresh baby spinach, arugula, or mixed greens.
Substitutions and Variations
- Orzo: If you're looking for a gluten-free alternative, you can use a gluten-free orzo and other small pasta shapes. Quinoa or rice can be used in a pinch.
- Pesto: While traditional basil pesto gives this salad its distinctive taste, you can easily swap it for an arugula pesto or spinach pesto.
- Feta Cheese: You can use parmesan cheese, fresh mozzarella pearls or bocconcini instead of feta. For a dairy-free option, substitute feta with tofu or vegan cheese.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Feel free to replace cherry tomatoes with grape tomatoes, diced regular tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, or even roasted bell peppers for a different layer of flavor.
Store your cold pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. With its fresh ingredients, it’s best to enjoy this salad within 3-4 days. Mix more pesto and a dash of lemon juice if needed to brighten it up.
A quick tip: if you're planning to have leftovers, you might want to add the dressing to only the portion you're about to consume. This way, the salad stays fresh and crisp for a longer period.
I don't recommend freezing this salad.
Your Questions Answered
Orzo might resemble rice due to its small, grain-like shape, but it's actually a type of pasta! It's traditionally made from semolina flour, which is the same type of flour used to make most pasta. So, despite the misleading appearance, orzo is indeed pasta, not rice.
If you make this recipe don't forget to leave a comment and rating below. We love to hear from you!
Pesto Orzo Salad
- 8 oz orzo pasta
- ½ cup pesto
- ½ lemon zest
- 2 tablespoon basil
- ½ cup feta cheese
- Cook the orzo pasta according to the package instructions. Once done, drain and rinse the pasta with cold water and set it aside to cool.
- While your pasta is cooling, take this time to halve your cherry tomatoes, crumble your feta cheese, and slice your fresh basil leaves into thin strips. Zest your lemon and set these ingredients aside.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the cooled orzo pasta, pesto, halved cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, lemon zest, and sliced basil leaves.
- Serve the salad immediately or refrigerate it for an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together. Adjust seasoning before serving. Add salt or lemon juice if needed to brighten it up. If the pasta seems dry. add more pesto or extra virfin olive oil.