Orzo Pesto Salad
Pasta salads have certainly evolved over the years. Culinary historians might agree the dish hit its peak in the 1980s when “new” tricolor pastas showed up on store shelves. Add a splash of Italian dressing, a handful of sliced black olives, cheddar and pepperoni and you’ve got the quintessential picnic and backyard cookout side dish. Remember cutting sticks of pepperoni and blocks of cheese into little cubes? I’d swipe them from the cutting board before mom could add them to the pasta. Even now, I admit to eating around the noodles and veggies to get to the good stuff.

Cooktop orzo

Making a bad pasta salad is almost impossible. Noodles, Italian dressing, some sort of cheese, some sort of vegetable. Delicious? Yes. Advanced culinary technique? No. What’s more, making a pasta salad for a cookout is an unspoken rule of adulthood. The correct response to a summer party invite is 1) Yes, and 2) I’ll bring some sort of noodle salad. But before you reach for the rotini, consider a recipe that refuses to play second fiddle to burgers and dogs.
Yellow Pepper
With so many varieties of pasta available and the ever-expanding availability of local produce, the once-humble pasta salad has taken on new life as a canvas to showcase fresh, local ingredients and homemade dressings. Our version takes basil pesto (also very popular in the 80s), and combines it with orzo, fresh mozzarella, crisp yellow pepper, and plump cherry tomatoes for an updated go-to pasta salad for the summer of 2016 and beyond.

Orzo Pesto Salad
Orzo Salad with Basil Pesto
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 5
Rating: 4
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
8 to 10
Servings
8 to 10
Orzo Pesto Salad
Orzo Salad with Basil Pesto
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 5
Rating: 4
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
8 to 10
Servings
8 to 10
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces orzo pasta
  • salt
Basil Pesto
  • 1 1/2 cups pine nuts
  • 1 cup etra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups torn fresh basil leaves tightly packed
  • 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ice water (optional)
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
Orzo Salad
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper julienned
  • 8 ounces fresh mozarella well-drained and diced
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season liberally with salt. Cook pasta until al dente, 6-7 minutes. While orzo is cooking, make pesto.
  • Make the pesto: heat a small skillet over medium heat and add the pine nuts. Shaking the pan often, toast the nuts until they are golden brown and fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a plate to cool. Reserve ½ cup pine nuts for the salad. Place the oil in the blender, followed by the basil, 1 cup toasted pine nuts, garlic and salt. Select Manual/Lo and blend, gradually increasing speed to 4 until the mixture is a chunky paste. Scrape down the sides of the blender jar as needed. If the outside of the blender jar starts to get warm, add 1 tablespoon ice water at a time to the pesto mixture to keep it cool and help it blend. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and butter.
  • Make the salad: in a large bowl, combine the orzo, pesto, reserved pine nuts and lemon juice. Add the cherry tomatoes, peppers and mozzarella. Stir gently to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate, covered, until cold.

Add a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Requred fields are marked*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>