Lunch/ Quick, Easy & Under 30/ Salads & Bowls/ Sides/ Vegetarian

Pesto Orzo Salad

This Pesto Orzo Salad with tomatoes is a simple 3 ingredient pasta salad recipe that comes together in about 15 minutes! It's made with orzo pasta, basil pesto and juicy red cherry tomatoes, making it the perfect fresh and light meal for everyone to enjoy! Recipe includes step-by-step instruction video!

pesto orzo salad with tomatoes in bowl with wooden spoon.

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This Pesto Orzo Salad with tomatoes is a simple 3 ingredient pasta salad recipe that comes together in about 15 minutes! It’s made with orzo pasta, basil pesto and juicy red cherry tomatoes, making it the perfect fresh and light meal for everyone to enjoy! Recipe includes step-by-step instruction video!

If you are looking for more recipes using basil pesto, check out this delicious Baked Pesto Chicken Recipe perfect for family dinners, or this Creamy Tomato Pesto Shrimp Pasta and Prosciutto and Roasted Pepper Sandwich with Pesto Mayo!

overhead view of orzo pesto salad with tomatoes in shallow bowl.

Pesto Orzo Salad

A light, fresh, super simple salad recipe is always something I enjoy, especially during the warmer summer months! This orzo salad is no different, it only requires 3 ingredients and comes together in about 15 minutes making it quick, easy and delicious.

The fresh flavours of the basil and tomatoes combined with the light texture of the orzo make this recipe one you want to try. So, if you’re a fan of this simple orzo salad, you’ll also want to check out this Orzo Salad with Sundried Tomatoes and Feta as well!

You’ll Love This Recipe! Here’s Why…

  • Only Requires 3 Ingredients – orzo pasta, basil pesto and cherry tomatoes, this means it ready in no time.
  • Versatile – serve this recipe hot or cold with a variety of add-ins such as vegetables, proteins and cheeses!
  • Perfect Make Ahead Meal – this is a great recipe is prep ahead of time and pack for weekday grab and go lunches or ready in no time dinners.
  • A Great Choice for Pasta Salad Lovers – this salad has great flavour, is light and fresh and just so delicious
plain cooked orzo pasta in bowl.

What is Pesto Pasta Salad?

Pesto pasta salad is an easy side or main dish made from the combination of your pasta of choice and basil pesto as a base. You can add various vegetables such as tomatoes or red onions, cheeses, and proteins such as chicken!

Where is Orzo Pasta From?

Orzo pasta originates in the pasta capital that is Italy. However, it is also a quite popular staple in Mediterranean (Greek) and the Middle Eastern cuisines as well. Orzo derives its name from its shape, and ironically translates to barley in Italian although contains no barley.

Is Orzo a Pasta or Rice?

Although it’s appearance greatly resembles rice, orzo is a pasta. It is typically made from semolina pasta, which is made from durum wheat. Orzo is also incredibly versatile and can be used a in variety of dishes.

orzo tomatoes and basil pesto in bowl

How to Make This Recipe

Ingredients

This 3 ingredient recipe only calls for orzo pasta, basil pesto and cherry tomatoes. The variations and substitutions are endless, but start with this base for the ultimate quick and easy salad:

Orzo Pasta: you can choose whichever variety of orzo you prefer such as organic, gluten-free or whole wheat orzo.

Basil Pesto: you can use store-bought pesto or make your own by combining fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Cherry Tomatoes: juicy, plump, bright red and delicious cherry or grape tomatoes bring crisp freshness to this salad.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Cook orzo pasta by brining a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo pasta according to the package directions, or until slightly a little more than al dente. Drain the orzo, drizzle with olive oil and set aside to cool.
  2. Combine pasta salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss together the cooked and cooled orzo, tomatoes and basil pesto until fully coated. Garnish with crumbled feta or parmesan cheese and serve.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

How to Prepare the Pasta

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo pasta according to the package directions, or until slightly a little more than al dente. Drain the orzo, drizzle with olive oil and set aside to cool.

Can I Prepare the Pasta Ahead of Time?

After the pasta is cooked and drained, drizzle with olive oil and store, covered in the refrigerator overnight. Ensure the pasta is completely cooled before refrigerating.

Is Orzo a Pasta or Rice?

Although it’s appearance greatly resembles rice, orzo is a pasta. It is typically made from semolina pasta, which is made from durum wheat. Orzo is also incredibly versatile and can be used a in variety of dishes.

Can I freeze this salad?

Unfortunately, this pasta is not suitable for freezing as the pastas texture will be compromised (soggy) during the freezing and thawing process.

Storage Tips?

Store in a airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. You will likely need to retoss with pesto and a drizzle of olive oil to freshen up the salad when ready to serve.

overhead view of pesto orzo salad with tomatoes in shallow bowl.

Variations and Substitutions

The options are endless for how you can tailor this salad to your taste or dietary preferences. Try swapping in these ingredients:

  • Instead of orzo pasta, use a another small shaped pasta variety (macaroni or shells) for similar results.
  • Add protein, such as grilled or roasted chicken, and even bacon!
  • Try using feta or mozzarella cheese instead of parmesan.
  • Add a fresh squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Pile up on the veggies, whether you roast your favourites or toss in some sun-dried tomatoes
  • Add pine nuts for added texture and crunch or your favourite seeds/nuts.

See My Story Below for Step-by-Step Instructions!

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If You Love This Pasta Salad Recipe, You’ll Want to Check Out These Other Salad Recipes Next!

pesto orzo salad with tomatoes in bowl with wooden spoon.

Pesto Orzo Salad

This Pesto Orzo Salad with tomatoes is a simple 3 ingredient pasta salad recipe that comes together in about 15 minutes! It's made with orzo pasta, basil pesto and juicy red cherry tomatoes, making it the perfect fresh and light meal for everyone to enjoy! Recipe includes step-by-step instruction video!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Quick, Easy & Under 30, Salads & Bowls, Summer, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 259 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cup Orzo Pasta
  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes or Grape Tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp Basil Pesto
  • Olive Oil drizzle
  • Parmesan Cheese or Feta Cheese, for serving

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo pasta according to the package directions, or until slightly a little more than al dente. Drain the orzo, drizzle with olive oil and set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, toss together the cooked and cooled orzo, tomatoes and basil pesto until fully coated. Garnish with crumbled feta or parmesan cheese and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 259kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 8gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 113mgPotassium: 207mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 409IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 1mg
Keyword basil orzo salad, how to make pesto pasta salad, orzo pesto salad, orzo salad pesto, orzo salad with basil pesto, orzo salad with pesto, pesto orzo, pesto orzo recipe, pesto orzo salad
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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Mariah T
    June 27, 2022 at 3:01 pm

    The perfect summer dish! A perfect side or even a great lunch meal. Definitely one of my go-tos!

    • Reply
      Taneisha Morris
      June 28, 2022 at 10:18 am

      Woohoo!! We have another winner!! Yayy!! Loved this feedback – thanks so much Mariah!!

    Leave a Comment

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