This tasty lemon basil orzo pasta salad is an easy summer dish! It has only a handful of ingredients but is filled with fresh flavor thanks to the lemon and basil dressing. Excellent for taking along your next cookout or outdoor barbecue.
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My family and I love to cook and eat outdoors during the summer. Sometimes it seems like a lot of effort to pack up a cooler and haul all our food to a local park when we have a grill on the deck, but we always end up having a great time. Something about the change of scenery, fresh air and natural surroundings makes everything taste better. Holidays like Memorial Day, 4th of July and summer birthdays are just more fun when you leave home. And easy, portable food is the key to a great outdoor cookout.
Summer food is all about dishes that are easy to make using fresh summer ingredients. This lemon basil orzo pasta salad is light and fresh. This vegetarian side dish recipe is easy to make with only five basic ingredients, but tons of flavor. The simple recipe lets the flavor of the lemon and fresh basil shine through. Since it is made without mayonnaise it works well for taking along to outdoor gatherings like a 4th of July cookout.
You can easily make this dish ahead of time for take it along on your next summer picnic or serve it at home. Dishes that you can prepare ahead of time are perfect for summer entertaining, because then you can spend your time enjoying your guests and the sunny weather instead of cooking.
What is Orzo?
Orzo looks like rice, but it is actually pasta. It can be cooked like either rice or pasta. It is nice to use for pasta salad because of its small size.
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How Do you Make Orzo Pasta Salad?
This pasta comes together in just a few minutes! The first step is to cook the orzo following the directions on the package. While the orzo cooks you can make the lemon basil dressing.
For this dressing I recommend juicing and zesting a lemon. It makes a huge difference in the taste of the salad if you use fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. It doesn’t even add any time to the recipe, since there is plenty of time while the orzo cooks.
This will give you a pretty, bright green dressing. Once the orzo is done cooking drain it, but don’t rinse it. Put the orzo into a serving dish, pour the lemon basil dressing over the orzo and toss it to coat the pasta.
You can serve this easy pasta salad warm or cold.
How Long Does Orzo Pasta Salad Last?
This salad keeps well in the refrigerator. It will stay nice and fresh for five days, making a great salad to make during Sunday meal prep and eat all week long!
If you are taking the salad to a barbecue or cookout it should only stay at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Other Great Additions to the Salad
This is a very basic pasta salad and you can make some quick additions to it if you want to adapt this for your family. Add in
- grape tomatoes
- grilled chicken
Basically anything that tastes good with basil and lemon can be stirred into the pasta salad if you are looking for more of a main dish than a side dish.
What to Serve with Orzo Pasta Salad
This salad is great with almost any grilled meat like burgers or steak. It would also pair well with these Grilled Pork Kebobs, since the simple flavor won’t overshadow the pork. I also like to make a simple salad like this on the weekend and then serve it with multiple dinners to simplify my meal preparation!
- 1 pound orzo pasta
- 1 medium lemon
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cook orzo according to package directions.
- While the pasta cooks, begin to make the dressing.
- Juice and zest the lemon.
- In a blender or food processor, combine basil, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Blend until smooth.
- When orzo is done, drain, but do not rinse.
- Put the pasta in a serving dish and pour basil mixture on top immediately while orzo is hot.
- Toss to coat.
- Serve warm or cold.
Add grated Parmesan cheese or grape tomatoes to the salad if you like.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 229 Total Fat: 10g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 154mg Carbohydrates: 31g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 5g Protein: 5g