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Pesto Orzo Salad

With a pretty green color and loaded with the bold flavors of pesto, this Pesto Orzo Salad is fabulous! It’s got so many tasty things in it, and the creamy pesto dressing ties it all together. Want the perfect pesto pasta salad? This is it!

Pesto Orzo Salad on a black serving dish.

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I love pasta salads. I love them because they’re hearty, delicious, and full of interesting ingredients. This Pesto Orzo Salad is a perfect example of a GREAT pasta salad. It’s easy, it’s colorful, and everyone loves it.

This is such an easy pasta salad to make, especially if you start with store-bought pesto. Sure, homemade pesto is fabulous and you can’t beat the flavor of fresh basil, but store-bought pesto really has come a long way and can be a quick hack for this recipe.

You’ll find lots of yummy things in this salad, including mozzarella pearls, sundried tomatoes, grape tomatoes, green onions, and more. There’s flavor in every bite!

Pesto orzo salad on a white plate.

What you’ll love about Pesto Orzo Salad


  • Orzo is quick-cooking and the whole salad is ready in a jiffy!
  • There’s oodles of flavor in every bite!
  • This salad is hearty enough to be an entree or side dish.

Ingredients

  • Orzo – Dried; cooked to al dente.
  • Pesto – Use a good-quality basil pesto.
  • Mayonnaise – Any kind will work.
  • Parmesan cheese – Grated or shredded.
  • Grape tomatoes – Cut in half.
  • Pearl mozzarella – Or regular mozzarella, diced.
  • Sundried tomatoes – Finely sliced.
  • Green onions – White and green parts; sliced.
  • Lemon – Fresh lemon juice.
  • Pine nuts – Toasted.
  • Fresh basil – For garnish.
Labeled ingredients to make Pesto Orzo Salad.

What Are Pine Nuts?

Pine nuts aren’t really nuts at all but rather pine tree seeds harvested from a specific species of pine cone. The FDA, however, considers pine nuts a tree nut and as such, they should be treated with the same level of allergy caution. They’re buttery and delicious and the perfect touch to this salad. You can find pine nuts in most large grocery stores.

What Is Orzo?

Orzo is a small shape of pasta. They’re similar to rice, only slightly larger. They are just like any other pasta, but they are small so they’re delicious in pesto pasta salad recipes.

A top-down shot of Orzo and Pesto Pasta Salad in a black bowl.

How To Make The Best Pesto Orzo Salad

  1. Cook the orzo pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water until quite al dente. Drain it and rinse it in cold water to chill it. Add it to a large bowl.
  2. Mix the cooked orzo with the pesto, Parmesan cheese, and mayonnaise until smooth.
  3. Fold in the grape and sundried tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, green onions, and lemon juice. Mix well.
  4. Chill for about 30 minutes before serving.
  5. Serve garnished with the toasted pine nuts and chopped basil.

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • The #1 reason for pasta salad fails is overcooking the pasta. Orzo cooks quickly – it should have some firmness when you bite into it. Rinse all the starch off it after it is cooked, and drain well.
  • Don’t overmix the salad – you don’t want to end up breaking the orzo and creating mush.
  • Quality ingredients count! Use the freshest and best you can find for this easy pasta salad recipe.
  • Can’t find mozzarella pearls from the deli area of your grocery store? You can use any kind of fresh mozzarella and dice it.

Recommended

Serving Suggestions

This is a fresh and flavorful pasta salad, and it pairs nicely with any kind of smoked chicken, grilled steaks, or even oven-baked chicken. I also love to pair a serving of this with a hearty soup for lunch.

Storage

Store any leftover pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. This salad will not freeze well.

Step By Step Process

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Pesto Orzo Salad in a black serving bowl.
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3.95 from 18 votes

Pesto Orzo Salad

Creamy, herby, and loaded with tasty ingredients, this easy Pesto Orzo Salad is the perfect pasta salad for BBQs, cookouts, potlucks, or anytime you want a tasty side dish to go with a meal.
Course Salad
Cuisine American, European
Keyword basil, orzo, pasta salad, pesto, pesto orzo salad, pine nuts
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 397kcal

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces dry orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup pearl mozzarella drained
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tabelspoons pine nuts toasted
  • fresh basil for ganish

Instructions

  • Cook the orzo pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water until quite al dente. Drain it and rinse it in cold water to chill it. Add it to a large bowl.
  • Mix the cooked orzo with the pesto, Parmesan cheese, and mayonnaise until smooth.
  • Fold in the grape and sundried tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, green onions, and lemon juice. Mix well.
  • Chill for about 30 minutes before serving.
  • Serve garnished with toasted pine nuts and chopped basil.

Notes

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • The #1 reason for pasta salad fails is overcooking the pasta. Orzo cooks quickly – it should have some firmness when you bite into it. Rinse all the starch off it after it is cooked, and drain well.
  • Don’t overmix the salad – you don’t want to end up breaking the orzo and creating mush.
  • Quality ingredients count! Use the freshest and best you can find for this easy pasta salad recipe.
  • Can’t find mozzarella pearls from the deli area of your grocery store? You can use any kind of fresh mozzarella and dice it.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 341mg | Potassium: 342mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 744IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 163mg | Iron: 1mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

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5 thoughts on “Pesto Orzo Salad”

  1. 5 stars
    How can you beat pesto and pasta? Delish! I love creaminess and multiple layers of flavor in this yummy orzo salad. Plus, the variety of textures is so appealing. Thanks for sharing your fabulous recipe!

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    Hello, beautiful! Orzo is my children’s very favorite pasta shape. And this combination of pestos, fresh mozzarella and so much more is pitch perfect. I cannot wait to make this amazing pasta salad recipe!

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    I’ve been craving a pesto pasta salad and this was spectacular! The freshness from the tomatoes and basil lighten the dish and make it something truly delicious. Can’t wait to make it again!

    Reply

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