Summer Pesto Orzo Salad
This quick and easy orzo salad with chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, and pesto is a tasty side dish or meal prep recipe. This is the perfect summer orzo salad recipe.
If you’re looking for summer pasta salad or orzo recipes, here is one to print or save for later. Pesto orzo salad is a light and flavorful summer salad that is great for meal prep or bringing to parties.
WHAT IS ORZO?
Though it’s shaped like rice, orzo is actually just a small pasta. It is tasty hot or cold and works well as the base of a pasta salad.
ORZO SALAD INGREDIENTS
This orzo salad combines traditional Italian ingredients for a well-rounded meal. Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. Use canned or cook them from dried on the stove or in your Instant Pot.
Cucumbers and tomatoes are summer staples and add freshness to this salad, which pesto adds tons of flavor.
CHOOSING THE BEST PESTO
However, store-bought pesto is just fine. I recommend a refrigerated option like Trader Joe’s or Le Grand, rather than a shelf-stable jarred pesto as the flavors are much fresher. Be sure to use a vegan pesto if needed.
HOW TO COOK ORZO
Orzo is cooked just like any other pasta. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, add some salt and boil until cooked al dente. Drain in a fine mesh sieve and then rinse with cool water to stop cooking.
HOW TO MAKE ORZO SALAD
There are many ways to make orzo pasta salad, so feel free to make this your own by adding your favorite ingredients. Once the orzo pasta is drained and cooled, add in veggies, legumes, and pesto or vinaigrette. A red wine vinaigrette like the one in this Greek Chickpea Salad works well.
- Ciliegine (mini mozzarella balls) for a Caprese-style orzo salad
- 1/2 cup halved pitted kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup drained capers
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 handful of chopped fresh spinach
- Diced or crumbled feta cheese
WHAT TO SERVE WITH ORZO SALAD
This recipe can be used as a main dish for lunch or a side for dinner. For dinner, you might like to add some additional protein such as Mediterranean Grilled Tofu, Halloumi or a piece of Feta, or shrimp.
Mediterranean-inspired orzo salad also works well as a pot-luck recipe as it can be made hours in advance and can be served cold.
- 1 cup orzo
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1.5 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 Persian cucumber, diced
- 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup pesto (more to taste)
- Fresh basil for garnish
- Cook the orzo in boiling salted water, according to the package instructions, for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, dice the red onion, half the cherry tomatoes, slice the cucumber, and drain and rinse the chickpeas.
- Once cooked, drain the orzo and rinse with cold water to remove the excess starch, cool it down, and stop it from sticking to itself.
- Mix the orzo and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl until well combined and coated in the pesto.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves and enjoy! This summer orzo pesto salad can be enjoyed warm, at room temperature, or cold. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Pesto pasta salad will last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Use vegan pesto if needed.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 236Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 272mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 5gSugar: 9gProtein: 8g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.