This delicious orzo salad looks as good as it tastes. With the fresh cherry tomatoes and basil leaves, you anticipate the fresh flavors when you see it. Of course, the mozzarella pearls are always enjoyed in any salad.
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If you aren't familiar with orzo, it's a pasta that is shaped like rice. With just a little bit of preplanning, this is an easy and quick pasta salad. The most time consuming part of this recipe is letting the orzo cool.
If you like fresh-flavored recipes, you will love this Greek seven-layer dip with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta.
Table of contents
What is Orzo?
Orzo is a small pasta. Many years ago, when I first bought it for a recipe, I thought it was rice! Take a look at the plate I put together to show you the difference between uncooked, cooked orzo and rice. Then you'll see why.
Why I love this salad
It is bright-tasting and fresh looking and smelling. This is a pasta salad with fresh cherry tomatoes with fresh basil loaded with flavor from a balsamic vinaigrette. Every time I serve it, it just disappears!
I like serving this in mason jars, especially if I've made it ahead. If you do make it ahead, put just a little dressing on it, and add some more just prior to serving. The orzo tends to absorb the vinaigrette (and that, for the most part, is good).
I make this salad all summer when my garden is overflowing with fresh basil and small tomatoes. It is one of my favorites and this is a great salad to take to a family or friend gathering.
Ingredients - Salad
The salad is so fresh and delicious, just waiting for the dressing.
1 cup dry orzo pasta
8oz drained mozzarella pearls (small balls of fresh mozzarella cheese)
1 Pint of cherry tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade (roll the leaves then slice thinly)
Ingredients - Balsamic Dressing
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 large clove finely minced garlic
This is a very forgiving recipe. If you have a garden with lots of large tomatos, cut the tomatos to size and use them. Can't find mozzarella pearls? Buy larger fresh mozzarella and cut to a smaller size. Don't have orzo pasta? Use a different small sized pasta. It's easy to substitute and keep the delicious look and flavor of this salad.
Cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Make sure you do not overcook it! Drain, stir in about 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil so the orzo doesn’t stick together. As it’s cooling, you need to stir it a few times so the pasta doesn't stick. I often make the orzo in the morning or the evening before.
Mix all balsamic dressing ingredients together in a mason jar. Notice that the mason jar has measurement markings on it. No need to dirty any measuring cups! Shake well before serving.
Mix cherry tomato halves, mozzarella pearls and basil into orzo. Add about ¾ of the dressing, reserving the balance to add just prior to serving. The pasta does absorb the dressing so it’s nice to drizzle some on just prior to serving.
This Caprese pasta salad is a nice alternative to a traditional lettuce-type salad. The ingredients are simple and flavorful due to the easy but delicious dressing.
No. Orzo is a small pasta shaped like rice. It's great in this pasta salad!
A traditional caprese salad is made with thick tomato slices, fresh mozzarella slices and fresh basil with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. This recipe has all those items with a slightly different twist as a pasta salad.
Other delicious salads
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Caprese Orzo salad
- 1 cup orzo cooked per package directions and cooled
- 8 oz mozzarella pearls small balls of fresh mozzarella
- 1 Pint cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup Fresh basil cut in chiffonade (roll the leaves then slice thinly)
Ingredients, Balsamic Dressing
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 large clove finely minced garlic
- Cook orzo pasta according to directions. Make sure you do not overcook it! Drain, stir in about 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil so the orzo doesn’t stick together. As it’s cooling, you will have to stir it a few times.
- In a seperate mason jar, mix all balsamic dressing ingredients together. Notice that the mason jar has the measurement markings on it. No need to dirty any measuring cups! Shake well prior to serving.
- Mix tomato halves, mozzarella pearls and basil into orzo. Add about ¾ of the dressing, reserving the balance to add just prior to serving. The pasta does absorb the dressing so it’s nice to drizzle some on just prior to serving.
Nutrition information is an estimate only provided as a courtesy using an ingredient database. Garnish and optional ingredients are not included in the calculations.
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Originally published Feb. 24, 2017.