Cooking, Baking & Cocktail Shaking

Summer Orzo Salad

Seasonal veggies, fresh basil, and hunks of creamy mozzarella fill this delicate summer orzo salad.

Summer Orzo Pasta |

Memorial Day is less than a week away. Clouds of char-broiled smoke will soon fill the air, tables will be loaded with picnic-style food, and covers will be lifted to reveal crystal clear pool water.

The summer heat will soon beat down, harsh and relentless.

Summer Orzo Pasta |

I plan on staying in the air conditioning and eating this salad while I gaze out at the smog-coated horizon through my sliding glass door. When night falls, I’ll crawl out from under my cool rock to water my veggie garden. That’s how I do summer. My pale skin doesn’t stand a chance against the cruel heat of the sun, and I don’t look good in red.

Summer Orzo Pasta |

I loaded this salad with plump, juicy tomatoes, crisp green beans, crunchy cucumbers, sweet peppers, creamy mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. This is summer in a bowl, folks.

I decided to use orzo in this salad. The delicate, rice-shape pasta is the perfect bed for the crunchy veggies. Each bite brings you creamy pasta morsels with a burst of crunch.

Summer Orzo Pasta |

I hit the jackpot at my local grocery store the other day when I came across this pack of BelGioioso mozzarella pearls. They’re bite-sized balls of creamy mozzarella that break apart. I save time in the kitchen and no longer have to worry about mutilating the squishy mozzarella ball into submission.

It’s a win-win.

Summer Orzo Pasta |

Summer Orzo Pasta |

Here’s a little kitchen tip to save you from making more dishes than absolutely necessary. Bring your pasta water to a boil. Stir in the orzo. As the orzo is cooking, add the string beans directly to the water with the orzo. Allow the beans to cook for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to an ice bath.

That’s one less dish you’ll have to wash. You’re welcome.

Summer Orzo Pasta |

I made a simple red wine vinaigrette to complement this salad. It’s tangy, vibrant, and light. I gently sweetened the vinaigrette with a little honey to balance out the acidity.

I prefer to make this salad the day before I plan on serving it to allow the flavors to marry and the orzo to soak up the vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette-soaked orzo=mucho flavor.

Summer Orzo Pasta |

This vibrant salad is always the hit of the party. Each year, my mom requests this salad several times.

Summer Orzo Salad

Seasonal veggies, fresh basil, and hunks of creamy mozzarella fill this delicate summer orzo salad.

Yield: 6 servings

Total Time: 25 minutes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes



8 ounces dry orzo

2 cups green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup diced seedless cucumber

1/2 cup diced red, yellow, or orange peppers

1 (8-ounce) package mozzarella, cut into small chunks

1/2 cup fresh basil, torn


1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 clove garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic paste), minced

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, stir in a handful of kosher salt. Add the orzo to the pot and stir.

Prepare an ice bath. Set aside.

Add the green beans to the pot with the orzo. Cook for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the green beans to the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Remove the green beans from the ice bath and pat dry with a paper towel.

Finish cooking the orzo until it’s al dente. Strain the pasta and rinse with cold water.

Add the strained pasta to a large bowl. Stir in the green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and mozzarella.


In a small bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic, honey, salt, and pepper. Continue to whisk as you slowly stream in the olive oil. Pour the mixture over the pasta. Stir to combine.

Place the pasta in an airtight container and allow it to rest in the refrigerator overnight.

Mix in the torn basil right before serving.


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13 Responses to “Summer Orzo Salad”

  1. #
    Laura Dembowski — May 20, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Love salads like this. I bet it would be great with quinoa too. I love adding to much dressing – then thenter starch soaks it all up. So good! After this winter, I welcome all the heat summer has to offer. But I love the ac.


  2. #
    Faith @ Pixie Dust Kitchen — May 20, 2014 at 9:04 am

    My favorite thing about orzo is that it soaks up so much of the dressing, so I love the tip about putting the dressing on the night before. I’ve mostly only had orzo salads with feta; I bet it’s awesome with mozzarella!


  3. #
    Mom — May 20, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I love, love, love this salad.
    I hope there is a big bowl headed my way this weekend, xoxoxo


  4. #
    shannon — May 20, 2014 at 10:28 am

    as a fellow pale-skinned chick, i also will be hiding out this summer until about 5 or 6 pm: i can’t take the heat, so i actually stay IN the kitchen most days. :) I’d be thrilled to spend time with this salad while i hide from the sun: it’s got everything I love about summer right there inside (especially those mozz pearls, right? LOVE those. happy almost summer, Jennie!


  5. #
    Julia — May 20, 2014 at 11:38 am

    So fresh and tasty! My friends and I are camping over Memorial Day weekend. This is exactly what we need to take with us!!


  6. #
    [email protected] — May 20, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    This salad sounds so delicious! Love all the flavors! And your mom’s comment – so sweet!!


  7. #
    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — May 21, 2014 at 6:53 am

    LOVE the flavours here girlfriend! And that fresh mozza? My life! Pinned!


  8. #
    Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction — May 21, 2014 at 9:30 am

    I need to add this salad to our Memorial Day menu! Love the flavors!


  9. #
    Choc Chip Uru — May 21, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    What a gorgeous looking orzo salad, it looks full of delicious spring flavour :D

    Choc Chip Uru


  10. #
    Kelly — May 22, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    This salad is gorgeous Jennie! Love orzo and all the spring flavors in here and even better that this can be made ahead of time – yum!


  11. #
    Kayle (The Cooking Actress) — May 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    well….now I want mozzarella pearls!!!

    This salad looks so pretty and light and tasty!


  12. #
    [email protected] — May 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Give me a big bowl of this any day of the week, and I’ll be happy!! So much goodness in this!


  13. #
    Amy @ Elephant Eats — May 28, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Mmm, I love orzo. I know it’s just another shape of pasta but for some reason it’s one of my faves. It really works so well in salads. Love that you added string beans in here!


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