Herbaceous and fresh; this delightful pesto orzo salad with summer vegetables including corn, cucumber, and tomato and fresh mozzarella is simple to prepare in under 20-minutes and a great take-along dish to your next cookout or potluck. Vegetarian and gluten-free adaptable.
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What you’ll love about this recipe
- It’s so simple! In just 15-minutes, with only ten ingredients, and little hands-on preparation required this orzo salad with pesto is so incredibly simple to throw together. It’s a great side dish for lunch, a weeknight dinner, or a last-minute summer cookout or get-together.
- It celebrates summer flavors and produce! I don’t know about you but I just love all the refreshing produce summer has to offer. Featuring juicy cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, and cool cucumbers, this orzo pesto salad takes full advantage of the delectable gifts of nature that are abundant this time of year.
- It’s vegetarian and gluten-free adaptable! Commonly an ingredient in basil pesto, Parmesan cheese, is often made with animal enzymes which means most pesto is not actually vegetarian-friendly. If your intention is for this dish to be vegetarian, please be sure to check the label on the pesto jar to make sure it is legitimately vegetarian. The only gluten in this dish comes from the pasta. Fortunately, you can easily swap the orzo for a gluten-free version.
Ingredients (+ notes & substitutions)
- Kosher salt: For salting the pasta water and the salad.
- Orzo pasta: Although it may look like rice, orzo is actually a short-cut pasta that simply resembles rice.
- Basil pesto: In order for this salad to be vegetarian, you will need to choose a pesto that is vegetarian. Parmesan cheese, which is typically an ingredient in pesto, if authentic, contains animal enzymes so make sure to check the label!
- Lemon juice: The lemon juice provides balance by brightening and freshening things up.
- Ground black pepper
- Mozzarella pearls: Another solid choice would be feta cheese.
- Cherry tomatoes: Could sub for grape tomatoes.
- Corn kernels: You can use canned, frozen, or fresh. If you opt for frozen corn, make sure to fully thaw it first. Fresh corn will need to be cooked prior to use.
- Cucumber: I prefer to use seedless cucumbers, however, any variety will do.
- Red onion: The onion adds a little zing and a nice bit of crunch.
How to make pesto orzo salad with summer vegetables + tips
1. Cook the orzo according to package instructions along with one tablespoon of kosher salt. Immediately transfer the cooked pasta to a strainer and run cold water over it until cool. Allow the excess liquid to drain then transfer the orzo to a large bowl.
2. Add the pesto, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and ground black pepper then toss to coat.
3. Add the mozzarella, tomatoes, corn, cucumber, and red onion.
Stir to combine then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days. If pasta salad becomes dry, add some olive oil and/or lemon juice to freshen it up.
More pasta salad recipes you may enjoy:
- Green Goddess Pasta Salad: Making up this green goddess pasta salad is an herbaceous homemade green goddess dressing, fresh Spring vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, and artichokes, and of course, pasta! It’s simple to prepare, takes just 20-minutes, and is gluten-free and vegetarian adaptable.
- Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad: This crowd-pleasing creamy pesto pasta salad with artichokes, black olives, tomatoes, and red onion is super easy and can be thrown together in just 20- minutes. Naturally vegetarian.
- Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Arugula, & Feta: This herbaceous lemon orzo salad is a wonderful Spring side dish incorporating fresh seasonal produce like asparagus and arugula, garlic, and feta. Naturally vegetarian.
If you make this pesto orzo salad with summer vegetables I’d love your feedback. Please leave a comment and/or a rating below as I greatly value your opinion. Or snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @taoofspiceblog. Love, light, and happy cooking ya’ll ♥
- 1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 16 ounces orzo pasta
- 3/4 cup basil pesto
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 10 ounces mozzarella pearls
- 1 cup halved or quartered cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 cup sliced cucumber
- 1/2 diced red onion
- Cook the orzo according to package instructions along with one tablespoon of kosher salt. Immediately transfer the cooked pasta to a strainer and run cold water over it until cool. Allow the excess liquid to drain then transfer the orzo to a large bowl.
- Add the pesto, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and ground black pepper. Toss to coat.
- Add the mozzarella, tomatoes, corn, cucumber, and red onion and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.
Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days. If pasta salad becomes dry, add some olive oil and/or lemon juice to freshen it up.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 306Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 340mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 13g
The nutritional information provided is computer generated. It is only an estimate and intended for informational purposes only. Nutrition details may vary depending on various factors such as origin, freshness of ingredients, etc