Orzo. And so many other yummy things.
This Orzo Pesto Salad is one of those dishes that works for just about any occasion. Lunch, brunch, dinner. Main dish, side dish, appetizer… ok, maybe not an appetizer. Personally, I’m happiest just making it, stuffing it in the fridge and dipping in for spoonfuls every hour or so until it’s gone. But that’s just me.
With all the amazing flavours in this salad, it is surprisingly easy to make. Orzo cooks pretty quickly, the tomatoes take a max of 5 minutes to make, and beyond that it’s just assembly.
You can use store bought pesto or make your own. I often make my own because I love to try to see just how crazy I can get with the ingredients (I’ll tell you about some of them soon), but it’s really not necessary here. If you’re super keen, read how to do it here.
Orzo Pesto Salad, the details…
Orzo cooks in about 8 minutes, so the first thing we’re going to do is dump it into some boiling salted water to get it started.
While the orzo cooks, you can get the tomatoes ready by spreading them on a baking sheet, tossing them with some olive oil and salt and placing them under a hot broiler for 4-5 minutes. They will start hissing and popping (which is actually pretty fun to watch – from a safe distance) and getting a little black in spots and then they’re done.
Once you drain the orzo you want to cool it down. You can either patiently wait (I can’t), or you can run it under cool water (I do). I like to leave it slightly warm because that’s how I like it best. The cooked orzo gets tossed with the pesto and some lemon parts and then all the other fixings get added in. Feta, pine nuts, pepperoncini peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and those juicy, popped tomatoes. Give it all a good mix, top with some fresh basil and eat. And eat and eat…
Ingredients and Substitutions
Orzo – I truly believe orzo is the best choice here, but any small pasta would work.
Feta – if you don’t have feta you can toss in some crumbled goat cheese or grate in any hard cheese like Parmesan or Pecorino.
Pepperoncini Peppers – these things are the bomb. They’re a little crunchy, they’re spicy, but not too spicy, they’re tangy, but not too tangy. If you can’t find them, any mildly spicy pickled pepper would work.
Looking for more salad recipes? Try these…
Let me know what you think!
Orzo Pesto Salad with Quick Popped Tomatoes and Pepperoncini
- 1 1/2 cups Orzo
- 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup pesto homemade or store bought.
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1/2 cup Pepperoncini peppers sliced
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil chopped
- 1/3 cup pine nuts toasted
- 1/4 cup fresh basil sliced
- Start cooking the orzo in salted water and heat your broiler.
- While the orzo cooks, spread the tomatoes on a baking sheet, toss with the olive oil and season with salt.
- Place the baking sheet with the tomatoes under the broiler, close to the heat, and broil for 4-5 minutes until they’re charred in spots and popping. Remove and set aside.
- Drain and cool the orzo (I run it under cool water).
- Add the orzo to a bowl and toss with the pesto, lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with S&P.
- Add in the feta cheese, Pepperoncini peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and broiled tomatoes. Toss well.
- Taste and season again with S&P, if needed. Top with the basil.
If you like this Orzo Pesto Salad Recipe, please go try my Recipe for Vegetable Orzo Soup with Parmesan and Lemon. You’ll love it!