This orzo pesto salad is made using just five ingredients including flavorful pesto sauce, fresh vegetables, and is an easy 25 minute recipe!
I love this flavor-packed pesto orzo recipe. It's perfect to enjoy as an entree, a side dish, and travels well making it a great option for a picnic or cookout.
You can serve it warm when it's freshly made or refrigerate it and enjoy it as a cold pasta salad.
Reasons You'll Love This Recipe
- Vegan/Plant-Based: This orzo pesto salad is made without meat, eggs, dairy, or any other animal products making it a great choice if you're vegan or vegetarian.
- Easy to make Gluten-Free: Simply swap the orzo out for a gluten-free orzo or a different gluten-free pasta.
- Perfect to Make in Advance: This recipe is perfect for meal prepping or preparing ahead of time and bringing to school or work.
Pesto: You can make your own pesto for this recipe or if you're short on time you can buy a pre-made pesto from the grocery store.
Pasta: I used orzo in this recipe as the pasta of choice.
Fresh Veggies & Herbs: This recipe calls for fresh tomatoes and fresh basil for the best possible flavors.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and quantities.
Substitutions & Additions
Swap out the Orzo: Though this recipe originally calls for orzo, you can swap the orzo out for any type of pasta that you like best.
Add extra Veggies: You can add any veggies that you like best but my top recommendations would be red onion or asparagus.
You can also add leafy greens or salad greens to make this more of a classic salad.
Make it Gluten-Free: Swap the orzo out for a gluten-free pasta to make this recipe gluten-free.
Add Protein: You can add chickpeas, tofu, or any type of protein that you like best to this orzo pasta salad.
Top Tip: Cook the orzo al dente so it doesn't get too soft or mushy. It will absorb some of the pesto and the longer it sits the more opportunity it has to soften. Cooking it al dente will give you a much better texture!
Step by Step Instructions
Image One: Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil. Once it has reached a boil pour in the orzo and cook it according to package instructions. The cook time is typically 7-10 minutes.
After the orzo has finished cooking, strain it then rinse it under cool water.
If you're making your own pesto for this recipe, use this time to make the pesto.
Image Two: While the pasta cooks, gather the remaining ingredients. Wash the tomatoes and basil under the sink.
Next, prep all ingredients according to package instructions.
Image Three: Combine all ingredients in a large serving bowl. Then toss until everything is well combined and the pesto has coated everything.
Image Four: Finally, adjust the amount of pesto to taste, add any extra ingredients or garnishes, and enjoy!
- Use fresh basil: The difference in using fresh vs. dried basil is enormous. Using fresh basil will give you the best possible flavor.
- Make the pesto in advance: If you're planning on making your own pesto for this recipe I recommend making it the day before. This will allow time for the flavors to meld and will give you a more dynamic overall flavor.
- Add a balsamic glaze drizzle: If you're really looking to elevate this recipe, add a drizzle of balsamic glaze on top just before serving.
How to Serve
This flavorful and creamy pesto orzo recipe is a great addition to any meal or spread.
You can always enjoy it as a main course but these are some delicious serving suggestions and tips on how you can pair this dish:
- Sandwiches: Especially warm sandwiches or paninis.
- Pizza: This is a great side dish for pizzas, the pesto is a great companion flavor.
- Salads: Serve along side or toss in your favorite salad.
- Grilled vegetables: The pesto is a great companion to a variety of grilled veggies like asparagus, red onions, mushrooms, and more!
- Picnics or parties: This orzo pesto travels well and is great to bring along to your next gathering or outdoor adventure.
- Meal prep: This recipe stays good in the fridge for up to four days which makes it a great meal prep food.
Frequently Asked Questions
Orzo salad is typically made up of orzo pasta, fresh tomatoes, basil, and some type of dressing or sauce.
Orzo is a type of pasta that is shaped like rice.
Pesto pasta is full of flavor and a great compliment to many other dishes such as salad, sandwiches, pizzas, grilled vegetables, and more!
More Vegan Side Dishes You'll Love
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Orzo Pesto Salad
- 1 cup orzo uncooked
- ½ cup basil pesto
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ cup basil chopped
- ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes chopped
- Start by boiling a pot of water and cooking the orzo according to package instructions. Once the orzo has finished cooking strain it and rinse it under cool water.
- While the orzo cooks, wash the tomatoes and basil then prep them according to the ingredient list.
- Combine all ingredients in a large serving bowl and toss until well combined and coated in the pesto. Add more pesto as desired for more flavor.