This simple and easy recipe for Pesto Pasta Salad combines orzo pasta with basil pesto, feta cheese, onions, olives, artichokes, and tomatoes for a cool summer side that’s perfect for your next BBQ.
We love basil pesto at our house. It’s a great way to add tons of flavor to all kinds of things – soups, pastas, bruschetta, and it’s a great marinade for fish, pork, and chicken. Stirring a little into alfredo sauce might be our favorite way to use it.
And while we’ve made plenty of homemade pesto, we love grabbing those little containers of the refrigerated pesto from the grocery store, too. The shelf-stable stuff is good too, but the refrigerated version just seems so much fresher.
This Pesto Pasta Salad makes great use of one of those containers of refrigerated fresh basil pesto by combining it with fresh lemon, orzo pasta, black olives, red onion, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and feta cheese to create a fresh, light, an cool side dish that’s perfect for summer – or any time of year, for that matter.
As I mentioned before, I highly recommend finding the refrigerated pesto over the shelf-stable stuff. The refrigerated version has a fresher flavor and has a much brighter green color – which looks great in this dish.
I also recommend buying a block of feta cheese and crumbling it yourself. The feta that you buy already crumbled seems to have a lot less flavor.
As with all salads like this that you can make a little in advance and store in the fridge, I always recommend tasting it and adding additional salt and pepper before serving it. That time in the fridge can change and develop flavors and often the salad will need a little more seasoning before being served.
If you’re wanting a little something different, there are a variety of swaps you could make. You could swap Kalamata olives for the black olives, mozzarella pearls or diced mozzarella for the feta, another pasta for the orzo, the list goes on. It’s very easy to customize. You could even add some grilled chicken and turn this delicious side into a light meal.
Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1 (16-ounce) box orzo pasta
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 (7-ounce) container refrigerated prepared basil pesto (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 1/2 cups sliced grape tomatoes
- 1 (2.25-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
- 1/2 large red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 (8-ounce) block feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
- Cook the orzo in salted water to al dente according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse in cool water until cooled.
- Add the orzo to a large bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice. Stir to coat.
- Add the pesto, tomatoes, olives, onion, feta, and artichokes. Toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge. Add additional salt and pepper before serving, if desired.