This pesto orzo salad is delicious and refreshing, perfect for that end-of-summer cookout. This recipe is beautifully herby and creamy.
Enjoy this orzo pasta salad with chickpeas as a side dish or a main dish. To add more protein, top with grilled chicken, shrimp, or salmon for a fresh and flavorful meal.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Quick recipe: This recipe only takes 15 minutes to make.
- Fresh flavors: Cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, pesto, and fresh basil.
- Vegetarian: This recipe is vegetarian and is easily made vegan with dairy-free pesto.
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This recipe calls for only seven ingredients.
- red onion
- cherry tomatoes
- English cucumber
- fresh basil (optional)
See the recipe card for quantities.
Cook the orzo according to the package instructions. The orzo should be al dente.
Top tip: Be sure to salt the water before cooking the pasta.
After cooking, drain the orzo, rinse it, and set it aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the orzo and the remaining ingredients until well combined and coated in the pesto.
Garnish with fresh basil leaves (optional) and enjoy. Other topping ideas include shredded parmesan, feta, or goat cheese.
- Pasta: Orzo can be replaced by other small kinds of pasta including mini farfalle, macaroni elbows, or pastini.
- Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes can be replaced by baby plum tomatoes and grape tomatoes. Try mixing red, orange, and golden tomatoes.
- Beans: Chickpeas can be switched out for another mild white bean such as navy beans or cannellini beans.
- Vegan: This pesto orzo pasta recipe can easily be made vegan by using dairy-free/vegan pesto. Traditionally, pesto contains parmesan cheese, but there are many vegan options available.
- Gluten-free: This can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free orzo pasta.
Pesto orzo salad can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Wait to add the fresh basil until ready to serve. Freezing is not recommended.
Pesto Orzo Salad
- 1 cup orzo uncooked
- ½ cup red onion diced
- 1-½ cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 medium English cucumber diced
- 15 oz chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 5 tablespoon pesto
- Fresh basil to garnish
- Cook the orzo according to the package instructions. Be sure to salt the water. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cooked orzo and the remaining ingredients until well combined and coated in the pesto.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves and enjoy.
Frequently asked questions
Pesto is a sauce traditionally made with basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan or pecorino cheese, and olive oil.
No, orzo is not a type of rice. Orzo is a type of pasta.