The College Housewife » Recipes » Orzo Pesto Salad

Orzo Pesto Salad

This delicious orzo pesto salad is light, fresh, and full of flavor! Tender orzo, mozzarella pearls, juicy tomatoes, and fresh greens all tossed with pesto make this dish wholesome and full of micronutrients. In only 20 minutes you’ll be able to tuck into this salad for lunch, a light dinner, or a side dish!

a serving of orzo salad with arugula, tomatoes, and mozarella all tossed with homemade pesto

Why You’ll Love This Easy Orzo Pesto Salad

It’s hearty and light at the same time! I think the freshness of the ingredients makes this recipe go down easy (along with how yummy it is, of course), but it’s also really filling! The orzo has more protein and fiber than most pasta so it’ll be sure to satiate your appetite. 

This is the perfect summertime salad! The tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil make it feel like a caprese vibe which screams summer to me. Plus, it can be eaten cold, room temp, or warm, so it’s a great side dish to serve at a BBQ or bring to a potluck. 

It’s super customizable! Add what you want and omit what you want. I have a whole slew of suggestions for you that’ll help you put your own stamp on this orzo salad.

Orzo Pesto Salad Ingredients

This list is so wholesome! I love that you don’t need many ingredients to pack such a powerful flavor punch. Fresh pesto is the best, so be sure to check out my homemade pesto recipe

bowls of orzo, cherry tomatoes, mozarella pearls, pesto, salt, arugula, and a whole red onion

  • Orzo
  • Tomatoes – Cherry or grape 
  • Mozzarella pearls
  • Red onion
  • Pesto
  • Arugula
  • Basil leaves

Variations and Substitutions 

  • Top your orzo pesto salad with balsamic glaze for a little extra delicious flavor boost!
  • Add some of your favorite chopped veggies.
  • Use spinach instead of (or in addition to) the arugula.
  • Add some chickpeas!
  • Serve your orzo pesto salad in a wrap with some falafel.
  • Add cooked and cooled sausage, chopped bacon, chopped chicken, sliced steak, etc. 
  • Try a different kind of pasta!
  • Add olives or capers for a salty punch.
  • Swap basil for parsley if you’d like a different herb.

How To Make Pesto Orzo Pasta Salad

a wooden spoon holding scooped up orzo out of a pot beside a photo of chopped cherry tomatoes on a cutting board beside a chef's knife

Step 1: Cook Orzo

Cook your orzo pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside. 

chopped red onion and all of the orzo pesto pasta ingredients in a clear bowl

Step 2: Combine Ingredients

In a large bowl, add the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, red onion, pesto, arugula leaves, and cooked orzo. Toss everything together until the pesto has evenly coated the ingredients. Taste test and season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper as desired.

two photos side by side. the left one is all of the ingredients in the bowl, including a dollop of pesto. The right photo is every ingredient mixed together in the bowl

Step 3: Garnish

Garnish your pesto pasta with fresh basil leaves. This dish can be served cold or at room temperature. 

a white bowl full of sections of chopped red onion, mozzarella pearls, cooked orzo, sliced cherry tomatoes, and chopped arugula

Serving Suggestions

To round out this meal let’s add some drinks, apps, and a sweet treat – just in case you’re serving this to someone else and not eating it directly out of the refrigerator like me. 

FAQs

What do you eat pesto with? 

Oh, the opportunities here are endless! Smear pesto on bread, put it on eggs, put it on chicken, stir it into mashed potatoes, or put a dollop on a baked potato. You can even stir it into a creamy soup, add it as a layer to pizza, put it in/on lasagna, or make a salad dressing with it. One of my favorite easy ways to use pesto is to add it to a sandwich for lunch. Enjoy!

Is orzo a pasta or a rice? 

Although orzo looks a lot like rice, it’s actually a version of pasta! It’s higher in protein and fiber than other versions so it’ll keep you fuller longer. 

How do I store pesto orzo salad? 

If you think you’re going to have some extra pesto salad leftover, only dress individual servings. That way you can store the leftovers in the refrigerator separate from the dressing to prevent it from getting soggy. Keep it in an airtight container for 4-7 days. 

a wooden spoon sticking out of a serving of pesto orzo salad with arugula, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella

More Recipes with Pesto

If you make these Orzo Pesto Salad, be sure to tag me on Pinterest and Instagram!

I seriously love seeing what you guys are making and sharing your creations with the College Housewife community!

Print
clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon heart heart icon heart solid heart solid icon
a serving of orzo salad with arugula, tomatoes, and mozarella

Orzo Pesto Salad

  • Author: Elizabeth Van Lierde
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Weeknight Dinner
  • Method: Mix
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This delicious orzo pesto salad is light, fresh, and full of flavor! Tender orzo, mozzarella pearls, juicy tomatoes, and fresh greens all tossed with pesto make this dish wholesome and full of micronutrients. In only 20 minutes you’ll be able to tuck into this salad for lunch, a light dinner, or a side dish!


Ingredients

Scale

1 cup uncooked orzo

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 cup mozzarella pearls

¼ red onion, finely diced

½ cup pesto (more to taste)

3 cups arugula

Fresh basil leaves


Instructions

  1. Cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. 
  2. In a large bowl add cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, red onion, pesto, arugula leaves and cooked orzo. Toss together until pesto is evenly coated over all ingredients. Taste test and season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper as desired.
  3. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Can be served cold or at room temp.

Notes

Storage: If you think you’re going to have some extra pesto salad leftover, only dress individual servings. That way you can store the leftovers in the refrigerator separate from the dressing to prevent it from getting soggy. Keep it in an airtight container for 4-7 days. 

Keywords: Orzo Pesto salad Ingredients, Orzo pesto salad balsamic, easy orzo pesto salad, Pesto Orzo Pasta Salad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

We Won!
Seen In