Aug 24

Lemony Basil Orzo Pasta Salad // Favorite Potluck Side Dish

Orzo Salad

If you make just one recipe for your upcoming Labor Day cookout, it has to be this orzo pasta salad! It's another recipe that I first had on the Walmart trip I took back in June (along with these amazing grilled peaches and crazy good grilled potato salad), and I kid you not when I say I went back for seconds... and then thirds. It's THAT good!

I've adjusted the recipe a little and updated the directions to make it simpler to follow for the home cook, and judging by the number of friends that asked for the recipe at a gathering last night, I'd say it's a winner.

Orzo Pasta Salad

This lemony basil orzo salad is perfect this time of year, because it highlights all of the great summery flavors that you can buy fresh right now -- gorgeous red and yellow cherry tomatoes, bright parsley, and vibrant basil, along with a healthy dose of fresh lemon zest and juice. It only gets better as it chills and the flavors marry together, so it's the perfect side to make earlier in the day for an evening gathering.

If you're not familiar with orzo, it looks like a rice, but it's actually a rice-shaped pasta. Orzo means "barley" in Italian, referring to the small, barley-like shape. I like the DeLallo brand, which I found tucked away on the top shelf in the pasta aisle at my local Walmart.

Orzo Salad Recipe

While I adore this orzo salad as is, since it highlights the flavorful fresh tomatoes we can get this time of year, you can also add a 4-oz. container of crumbled feta cheese for more of a Greek-style salad. Or turn it into a main dish by adding some sliced grilled chicken breast on top.

Either way, just make it ASAP -- I promise you won't be sorry you did!

Lemony Basil Orzo Pasta Salad

Yield: 10-12 servings as a side

Lemony Basil Orzo Pasta Salad


  • 1-lb. orzo pasta
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • zest of 2 large lemons
  • juice of 2 large lemons (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 2 cups red and yellow grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup green onions, greens only sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 pkg. (0.66-oz.) fresh basil, chopped


  1. Bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil and add 1/4 cup salt. Add the orzo pasta to the water and stir. Bring the water back up to a boil. Stirring occasionally, cook for 9 minutes.
  2. While the orzo is cooking, zest and juice the lemons into a large mixing bowl, and whisk in the olive oil.
  3. When the orzo is done cooking, drain it (do not rinse), and toss it with the sauce mixture while still hot.
  4. Allow the pasta and sauce mixture to cool while you chop the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Fold in the red peppers, grape tomatoes, green onions, parsley and basil.
  6. Refrigerate for at least two hours. Serve cold.

Walmart Moms Disclosure

by Tara | 3 comments

  • That recipes looks so bright and light! But I really love the bowls in the photo. So Cheery!

    • Linsey, the mixing bowl is part of a set from Crate and Barrel. I'm so sad because the biggest one broke a few months ago. The small bowls are my absolute fave, though. I have them in a bunch of different colors and patterns -- they're from West Elm. The kids have broken a few of those too, but I was smart and bought extras. :)

  • I'm a pasta salad lover, and I absolutely have to try this one. It looks SO good!

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