Orzo Pasta Salad with Pesto an easy pasta salad recipe thats the perfect summer side dish.
Orzo pasta salad has been my go to summer side dish since college. I remember throwing a bridal shower for a friend and her cousin brought a pesto and sun-dried tomato pasta salad that I knew I needed to recreate. Well with some creative liberty and no sun-dried tomatoes on hand this orzo pasta salad with pesto was born. You know what? I liked it even better than the original recipe. Now anytime I am invited some where during the summer my go to side dish is this pasta salad.
This easy orzo pasta salad recipe is made with pesto, cucumbers, tomatoes, sharp cheese and scallions. Orzo pasta salad with pesto is the perfect side dish for BBQs, potlucks or even meal prepping for the week. It’s filling enough to bring to work for lunch or even on a picnic.
How to cook orzo for pasta salad
The key to any pasta salad is that the pasta isn’t over cooked. For Orzo I follow the directions on the back of the package and cook it al dente. Which is usually 9 minutes. Strain the orzo in a colander and rinse with cold water. This will stop the cooking process.
PASTA SALAD INGREDIENTS
It was important to me to have a non mayonnaise pasta salad option when I have a BBQ. There always seems to be multiple people present at parties with an aversion to mayo. Here are the ingredients I use to make this easy side dish.
- Cherry Tomatos
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Italian Dressing
- Salt and Pepper
This pasta salad can truly be made with any ingredients you want. Want to go with more of a traditional greek orzo pasta salad add some feta, olives and a lemon vinaigrette.
Orzo Pasta Salad Recipe
- 16 oz. of Orzo
- 1 Cucumber Diced
- 1/2 Cup of Quartered Cherry Tomatoes
- 4 oz. of Cubed Sharp Cheese
- 1/2 Cup of Chopped Scallions.
- 8 oz. of Pesto
- 2 Tablespoons of Italian Dressing
- Cook orzo according to back of the box usually 9 minutes. Strain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
- In a medium sized bowl combine orzo, veggies and cheese.
- Stir in pesto and Italian dressing.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!
Now as Ina Gardner would say there is nothing wrong with store bought. I couldn’t agree more. I always buy store bought pesto for my pasta salads. Now a few years ago the price of pine nuts sky rocketed and most companies that made pesto switched to cashews instead. Most people wouldn’t have noticed this but with a nut allergy I noticed only after having a reaction.
So now I check the label every time even if it’s the pesto I always buy. I have found that Classico traditional basil pesto still uses pine nuts. So that is always my go to for pesto sauce.