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a bowl of orzo pesto salad with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, and toasted pine nuts.
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5 from 1 vote

Orzo Pesto Salad Recipe

This orzo pesto salad is the perfect summer side salad. It's easy to make and totally customizable. You'll be taking it to potlucks and picnics all summer long.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Cooling time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 358kcal


  • 8 ounces (about 1⅓ cups) orzo
  • ¼ cup pesto plus more as desired
  • ½ cup perlini mozzarella or other fresh mozzarella, chopped
  • 10 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • 10 pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt plus more for salting the pasta water
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts


  • Bring a large pot of water, add salt, and cook the orzo according to the package directions until it is just al dente. Before draining, reserve about a cup of pasta water.
    8 ounces (about 1⅓ cups) orzo
  • Drain the orzo and return it immediately to the warm pasta pot. Add about ¼ cup of pesto the orzo and stir it until the pasta is evenly coated. If your pesto is thick, add some of the pasta water about a tablespoon at at time to thin it slightly.
    ¼ cup pesto
  • Transfer the orzo to a glass bowl and let cool to room temperature.
  • When cool, add the perlini mozzarella, chopped tomatoes, chopped olives, salt, and pepper, and toss gently to mix.
    ½ cup perlini mozzarella, 10 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large, 10 pitted Kalamata olives, sliced, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • Garnish with toasted pine nuts and serve at room temperature.
    2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts


When you drain the orzo, reserve a cup of pasta water. Then drain and mix the orzo with pesto while the orzo is still warm, using pasta water to thin the pesto as necessary. This way the orzo absorbs the sauce and your orzo salad tastes so much better!
Lightly toasting pine nuts brings out their flavor and makes a crunchier garnish for the pesto orzo salad.


Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 463mg | Potassium: 254mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 561IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 1mg