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Orzo Pesto Salad Recipe (Vegetarian)

Orzo Pesto Salad is a 20-minute vegetarian side dish, perfect for a BBQ, cookout, or holiday party. A delicious, herby, and refreshing appetizer or side, it’s a crowd-pleasing salad everyone will love.

This pesto orzo salad is a modern take on caprese, a classic Italian dish that features fresh mozzarella cheese, Genovese basil, and fresh garden tomatoes – now tossed with orzo pasta. The classic combination can be found on restaurant menu’s everywhere, and is something we love making at home.
 
orzo pesto salad recipe healthy pasta salad with pesto dressing vegetarian holiday side dishes for christmas holidays or hannukah

I love a good pasta salad, and this orzo pesto salad is a bright & fresh recipe that is great all year long! As a born and raised Midwesterner, we had a pasta or macaroni salad served at any block party, cookout, holiday party, or BBQ. This Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad is a fun twist on a classic salad.

I added both fresh basil and parsley to make this dish extra vibrant.  I love the red & green colors in this, it would be great for a winter holiday gathering as well. 

This Orzo Pesto Salad Recipe Is:

  • Refreshing
  • Packed with flavor
  • Sweet
  • Earthy
  • Garlicky
  • Vegetarian, and can easily be made vegan or gluten free
  • Great for entertaining
  • A great make-ahead recipe for pasta salad, so you aren’t cooking the day of the party.

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Inexpensive Holiday Side Dishes

This orzo pesto salad is simple to make, very cost-effective, and so delicious that everyone at your table will want to dig in. We always have pasta on hand, so I love whipping up a batch of pasta salad for a week’s worth of meal prep lunches. Orzo is about $1-$1.50 a lb, so its an expensive ingredient that will make many servings with just one box.

What’s In This Caprese Orzo Salad with Pesto Dressing?

I stock up on organic produce with Misfits Market  – they have a fantastic selection of in-season fruits & veggies, healthy pantry items, and great food finds for a fraction of grocery store prices! You can get $10 off your first $30 box by clicking here!

  • Orzo Pasta – I absolutely love this fun orzo pasta shape, it goes great with this bright and fresh salad. I used regular orzo for this pasta, but if you are looking for a gluten free version, you can find one here online!
  • Tomatoes: I used cherry tomatoes, but any variety would be fine. Bonus points if they are from your garden!
  • Fresh Mozzarella balls: packed in water. If you use a larger ball of fresh mozzarella, then make sure to dice the cheese into bite sized pieces. For a vegan option, marinated tofu would also be delish!
  • Parsley: I topped this salad with fresh parsley because the bright flavor pairs so well with the sweet tomatoes and salty mozzarella. You can use basil too if you’re feeling bold.
  • Pesto (or Store-Bought) Vinaigrette: I blended a few simple ingredients in the blender to make this dressing. Fresh basil from the garden, a handful of fresh spinach, raw garlic, walnuts, balsamic vinegar for a little sweetness, and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste!

Pasta Salad with Store-Bought or Homemade Pesto

You can use store bought pesto for the dressing too – just make sure to stir in some extra balsamic vinegar and olive oil into the pesto so it has a thinner consistency. That way, the dressing will stick to every nook of the orzo for maximum flavor.

caprese orzo pesto salad recipe with fresh mozzarella tomatoes parmesan cheese balsamic dressing and fresh parsley or basil in a bowl

How Do I Make This Orzo Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad?

  1. Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain, rinse under cold water, and add to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add all the pesto ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
  3. Add the tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and orzo dressing to the pasta, toss to combine. Make sure all the orzo is evenly coated in dressing.
  4. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Drizzle a little extra olive oil and balsamic over the pasta salad right before serving.

 

How To Meal Prep Orzo Salad

This is an awesome side dish for lunch or to meal prep! Make a huge batch on Sunday night, divide into containers, and you can enjoy a simple no-cook lunch throughout the week. For more of a ‘salad’ you can add spinach to the orzo salad.

And to keep the ingredients fresh and from wilting, you can also divide the dressing into smaller containers instead of mixing it into the salad. That way, the spinach will stay extra crisp throughout the week. Browse over 100 free meal prep recipes here!

 

pesto orzo salad with fresh mozzarella salad orzo pasta and cherry tomatoes with parmesan cheese and homemade basil

Dietary Modifications

  • This recipe is naturally vegetarian. To make vegan or dairy free, just substitute in cubed marinated tofu instead of the cheese. The dressing is naturally vegan as well, so only the cheese has dairy.
  • For a gluten-free version, make sure to use gluten free orzo. And check to ensure there is no added gluten in the balsamic vinegar.

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More Vegetarian Holiday Side Dishes You’ll Love

Greek Yogurt Cornbread Recipe (Vegetarian, High Protein)

Chopped Salad with Chickpeas Recipe (Gluten Free, Vegetarian)

Whole Wheat Stuffing Recipe (Vegetarian)

Creamy Kidney Bean Salad Recipe

Beet and Apple Salad Recipe (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Get the Same Ingredients for this Orzo Pesto Salad Recipe

 

 

As always, if you make this vegetarian orzo pesto salad recipe be sure to leave me a comment, rate this recipe, and tag me @theherbeevore on Instagram so I can feature you.  I love seeing all your photos of my recipe recreations!

Let’s keep in touch – make sure to sign up for my newsletter to get fresh recipes weekly. And don’t forget to follow over on Pinterest, Instagram , & my YouTube channel – I’d love to connect with you there!  

 

pesto orzo salad with fresh mozzarella salad orzo pasta and cherry tomatoes with parmesan cheese and homemade basil

Orzo Pesto Salad

The Herbeevore
Orzo Pesto Salad is a delicious vegetarian side dish, perfect for a BBQ, cookout, or holiday party. A delicious, herby, and refreshing appetizer or side, it's a crowd-pleasing salad everyone will love.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Appetizer, Pasta, Salad
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 279 kcal

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl

Ingredients
  

For the Salad

For the Dressing

Instructions
 

  • Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain, rinse under cold water, and add to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add all the pesto ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
  • Add the tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and orzo dressing to the pasta, toss to combine. Make sure all the orzo is evenly coated in dressing.
  • Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Drizzle a little extra olive oil and balsamic over the pasta salad right before serving.

Video

Notes

For a vegan version, use marinated cubed tofu instead of the mozzarella!  

Save Money on Organic Produce!

I get all the fresh produce for my recipes from my garden and from Misfits Market - they sell all organic produce at a super discounted price, and it’s purchased direct from the farmers. We get Misfit Market boxes every other week and love picking out our favorite seasonal produce for delivery.  You can get $10 off your first box by clicking here! 
If you think organic produce is too expensive... think again, and give Misfits Market a look!

Nutrition

Calories: 279kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 8gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 21mgPotassium: 310mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1485IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 2mg
Keyword caprese orzo salad, orzo pasta salad with pesto, orzo pesto salad, orzo salad with pesto dressing, pesto orzo salad
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Posted in 30 Minute Dinners, American, Appetizers, Easy Weeknight Meals, For Entertaining, Italian, Make Ahead, Meal Prep, Pastas, Salads, Side Dishes, The Herbeevore Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes, Winter Recipes

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