This pasta salad is perfect for summertime lunches and as a side dish for cookouts
Caprese Orzo Pasta Salad has all of the flavors of a traditional Caprese salad, plus the carb-y goodness of orzo pasta. It’s a delicious and pretty addition to any cookout menu.
What goes into this pasta salad?
Only a handful of ingredients!
In short: you’ll need some pasta, pesto, tomatoes, and cheese. Easy peasy, right? The short list of ingredients and ease of preparation (more on that below) make this recipe a real winner.
And how does it come together?
You’ll start out by boiling a big pot of water, adding a good amount of kosher salt, and cooking some orzo pasta according to the directions on the package. For anyone who isn’t familiar, orzo is a short cut pasta that is shaped like a big grain of rice.
You’ll combine your cooked and cooled pasta with some basil pesto. You can use store bought pesto or make a batch of your own at home. I did the latter, following this recipe as a guide. Basically, you’ll be blitzing together a ton of fresh basil, pine nuts (though I’ve used walnuts in a pinch), fresh garlic, parmesan cheese, and a little salt and pepper before streaming in some olive oil to make a fresh sauce.
The basil that you see below was grown in my container herb garden. *insert heart eyes emojis here*
Next, you’ll add some super sweet cherry or grape tomatoes to the mix. Tomatoes are best in the summertime, of course, but, I love that the little cherry/grape guys that you get at the grocery store are sweet pretty much all year round. You can use any color tomato that you like — I happened to find a mix of teeny tiny yellow and red tomatoes and they were perfect.
Last, you’ll add some creamy fresh mozzarella cheese to this pasta salad. Ideally, you want the mozzarella to be bite-sized. I found some mozzarella pearls (perfectly bite-sized round balls of cheese) at the grocery store. However, if you can only find mozzarella bocconcini or ciliegine (slightly larger balls of mozzarella) at the store, just go ahead and halve or quarter them as needed.
If you’re feeling a little fancy, you can garnish the pasta salad with a little more fresh basil. Stash it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve, and enjoy!
Looking for other pasta salad and/or Caprese recipes?
I think that I can help you out with that. If you are looking for another pasta salad recipe, check out Lauren’s Pasta Salad (yes, I named it after myself ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. No shame.)!
If you’re looking for more Caprese-type recipes, I can help with that, too. This Farro Caprese Salad is pasta salad-like, but different in that it uses farro, rather than pasta. It’s fresh, summery, and perfect for cookouts.
I also love to include fruit in my Caprese salads! Sweet summer fruit is great alongside juicy tomatoes and creamy fresh mozzarella. If you haven’t tried fruity Caprese salads, I definitely suggest that you give my Nectarine and Burrata Caprese Salad AND Strawberry Caprese Salad a try! You’re going to love them both.
- 16 oz orzo pasta
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 cup pesto (store bought or homemade)
- 8 oz cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese pearls
- fresh basil, for garnish
- Cook the orzo pasta in salted boiling water according to the directions on the package.
- Once cooked, drain the pasta and spread it out on a baking sheet in an even layer.
- Drizzle the orzo with olive oil and toss to distribute the oil evenly. Allow the pasta to cool to room temperature.
- Combine the cooled orzo with the pesto.
- Add the tomatoes and mozzarella. Toss to combine.
- Garnish with fresh basil.
What equipment should I have on hand in order to make this recipe?
- A big pot in which to cook your orzo. I usually end up using a Dutch oven.
- A colander, to drain your cooked orzo
- A food processor makes making pesto a snap
- A spatula to mix everything up
- A beautiful serving bowl – consider getting one from Hallyburton Pottery (that’s where I got mine!)
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