A delicious take on a traditional dish, this Orzo Pasta Salad Recipe is the perfect addition to your next family barbecue this summer.
Are you looking forward to backyard barbecues this summer? With all this warmer weather we have been enjoying, I sure am! This orzo pasta salad recipe would be the perfect side dish to any tasty meal you will be grilling up.
Creamy and delicious, yet full of vegetables, your family will love it. Using orzo instead of the traditional rotini or macaroni pasta, makes this recipe stand out. Undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser at your next cookout, potluck, picnic, or family event.
What goes well with pasta salad?
I don’t think it’s a proper barbecue without the pasta salad. It goes with any meat you are grilling up. However, pasta salad is just an easy and excellent side dish for any event. It is so versatile that it goes well with many other meals.
- Sandwiches – Whether it’s a nice grilled panini or a turkey and cheese club sandwich, pasta salad makes a tasty side choice.
- Fruit – Make a beautiful fruit salad to serve with the pasta salad. Add cooked, chopped chicken to the pasta for added protein and to make it a complete meal.
- Vegetables – Grill up some delicious veggies, such as corn on the cob, asparagus, carrots, or potatoes, and serve with the pasta salad. Keep it vegetarian or add a cooked protein.
- Soups – A nice, light summer soup would pair well with a side of pasta salad. You could try a summer minestrone soup or even a bowl of cool tomato soup. Just add some crispy bread!
- Meats – Aside from the grilled meats at a barbecue, you can add it with any protein you have cooking in your oven for dinner. This orzo pasta salad would go great with this roasted chicken dinner.
- Cured meats – Another great protein to add to your pasta salad is any cured meat. From salami to pepperoni, you can’t go wrong with the flavor, and it could become a meal of itself.
Pasta salad is so simple to make, you will be adding it to so many dishes!
Tips for making the perfect pasta salad
- Don’t overcook your pasta – This is most important to me, maybe because I am Italian, but I hate mushy pasta. I cook all my pasta to al dense. Pasta continues to cook a bit once it is out of the water. Therefore, drain your pasta when it is firm to the bite.
- Chop up veggies small – Nice tiny pieces of vegetables are more appealing in a pasta salad. It is recommended to make them smaller than bite-sized, since you will be scooping up a variety of ingredients in each bite.
- Make sure pasta is cool – Before combining your pasta with the veggies and dressing, ensure it has properly cooled. Whether you give it time on the counter, run it under cool water, or let it sit in the fridge, just make sure it isn’t hot when combining the ingredients.
- Add lots of colors – When choosing your veggie selection, make sure there is a good palate of color for visual representation. If you are adding in red tomatoes and orange carrots, try adding in a yellow bell pepper, instead of one with the same color as the other vegetables. Then you can add in different shades of green with broccoli, artichokes, and/or cucumbers. More vegetables never hurt anyone!
HOW TO MAKE an easy orzo pasta salad
Making this flavorful orzo pasta salad is so simple, you can make it the same day as your cookout. For the full detailed amount of ingredients and steps, see the recipe card below.
WHAT YOU NEED:
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KITCHEN TOOLS NEEDED:
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Dijon mustard
- Garlic, minced
- Italian seasoning
- Sea salt
- Orzo pasta
- Red onion, finely chopped
- Green onions, chopped
- Cherry tomatoes, halved
- Broccoli florets, chopped
- Red pepper, chopped
- Carrot, shredded
- Fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
- Fresh parsley, chopped
1. Make the salad dressing.
Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a medium bowl, then set aside.
2. Cook the pasta.
Prepare the pasta according to the package directions.
3. Prepare the vegetables.
While the pasta is cooking, you can start chopping, peeling, and shredding all the vegetables. Then set aside in a large bowl. Next, cube the cheese.
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4. Putting everything together.
The pasta is done cooking when it is al dente, firm yet soft. That is the best way to cook any pasta. You will drain it and let it cool. Whether you should rinse your pasta or not, is a great debate and is well detailed in that article. You can make your own judgment call on that.
Place some of the pasta in the bowl with the veggies, add half the dressing and mix. Then add the remaining pasta, dressing, and the cheese. Toss well to coat. Season with the salt and pepper.
Serve at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
How long does orzo pasta salad keep?
Pasta salad will keep in the fridge for at least 3 days. Enjoy it for lunches or a dinner side dish. If you are making this dish ahead of time, prepare all the ingredients, but don’t add in the dressing. Mix in the dressing an hour or so before you serve it.
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice (or juice of one lemon)
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 ½ cup dry orzo pasta
- ¼ of a large red onion, finely chopped
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 head broccoli, florets chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, shredded
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
To make the salad dressing:
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside.
To make the salad:
- Cook the pasta according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, prepare the veggies for the salad. Chop the onions, tomatoes, broccoli and red pepper, and place in a large serving bowl. Shred the carrot (I used a vegetable peeler) and place in bowl. Chop the parsley and set those aside.
- Cube the cheese.
- When pasta is done cooking, drain and let cool for a few minutes.
- Place about half of the pasta in the bowl with the vegetables. Give the dressing a couple whisks and pour half into the bowl with the pasta and veggies. Toss well to coat and combine everything.
- Place remaining pasta in the bowl, along with remaining dressing and the cheese and parsley. Toss well to coat and combine everything.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and toss once more.
- Serve at room temperature, or chill in fridge for an hour and serve cold.
Pasta salad will keep in the fridge for at least 3 days. Enjoy it for lunches or a dinner side dish.
Can add cooked, chopped chicken for added protein, and to make it a complete meal.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 247Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 15mgSodium 399mgCarbohydrates 27gNet Carbohydrates 24gFiber 3gSugar 3gProtein 9g
If you make this tasty take on the traditional pasta salad at your next barbecue, let us know! Or if you make your own version, we would love to see it!
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