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.



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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