Orzo With Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil Pesto

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Easy one pot Orzo with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil Pesto is a light vegan side dish everyone loves – slightly spicy, a little salty, and packed with sun dried tomato and pesto flavor in a quick pasta salad that is perfect for picnics, parties, or alongside fish, steak, chicken, or pork.

orzo in a bowl with sun dried tomatoes and yellow peppers
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Easy Orzo With Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil Pesto

I love pasta salads – they are easy, quick, delicious, and full of flavor – but also perfectly portable, great hot or cold, and can work as a side dish, mixed into a salad, or even a complete meal when served bowl-style with grilled vegetables, chicken, fish, steak, or pork! While I love to make pasta salad, I really love to make orzo pasta salads – the shape of the orzo is fun and easy to serve, and orzo cooks so quickly it’s great for a super-quick dish everyone loves!

This easy one pot Orzo with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil Pesto is full of my favorite flavors – bright and salty pesto, tangy pepperoncini, and tart sun-dried tomatoes. It is totally crave-worthy and takes less than 10 minutes to make – just boil the pasta, toss, and serve! This easy and delicious side dish is perfect for picnics, potlucks, impromptu dinner parties, and great for meal prep for busy weeks – add grilled chicken, steak, or pork for a delicious meaty pasta that is great even cold for a filling and hearty meal on the go!

Pasta salad is perfect in summer for a delicious, easy, and portable dish – and this orzo pasta salad is made without mayonnaise, so it is great to serve at picnics and potlucks without having to worry about keeping it an exact temperature. There are a couple of tips and tricks to make this orzo pasta salad perfect for serving later without stressing too much – these tips will make your orzo pasta salad perfect every time!

How to Make Sun Dried Tomatoe Orzo with Basil Pesto

First assemble the following ingredients:

  • Orzo pasta (2 cups) – A small, rice-shaped pasta, orzo serves as the perfect base for this dish, offering a delightful texture that absorbs the flavors of the accompanying ingredients.
  • Extra virgin olive oil (3 tbsp) – Drizzled over the finished dish, extra virgin olive oil adds a fruity, peppery depth that enhances the overall richness and mouthfeel.
  • Pesto (1 1/2 cups) – This basil-based green sauce brings a burst of herbal freshness and nutty, garlicky undertones, tying together the Mediterranean flavors of the dish.
  • Sun dried tomatoes (1/2 cup) – Chewy and intensely flavored, sun-dried tomatoes add a tangy sweetness and a vibrant pop of color that complements the creamy pesto.
  • Pepperoncini peppers (1/2 cup) – These mild, tangy peppers introduce a subtle heat and pickled brightness, offering a zesty contrast to the dish’s rich flavors.
  • Pine nuts (1/2 cup) – Toasted pine nuts sprinkle on top add a crunchy texture and a buttery, nutty flavor that perfectly rounds out the dish.

Use this Method

Cook Pasta. In a large pot, boil 4 cups water. Add orzo and boil pasta to al dente. Drain well.

Combine. In a large bowl, add orzo and the rest of the ingredients and stir, tossing to be sure it coats the pasta evenly.

Cool and Serve. Refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight. Serve with chicken, fish, steak, or mix into a salad for a delicious pasta salad!

orzo in a bowl with sun dried tomatoes and yellow peppers

Tips and Tricks for Orzo Pasta Salad

Cook orzo al dente. This pasta salad is mixed with oil and antipasti, so it is best to cook your orzo with just a tiny bit of crunch so that it doesn’t turn soggy when mixed with the antipasti and oil.

Let orzo chill before mixing antipasti. To help keep the flavor perfect, let the orzo chill slightly before mixing with antipasti and oil.

Refrigerate up to a day before serving. This pasta salad actually tastes best chilled – so refrigerate before serving. This pasta salad is perfect for potlucks and picnics – because it can be made up to a day in advance and kept in an airtight container int he refrigerator before serving.

Keep cool – but don’t stress the temp. For food safety, you should keep this pasta salad chilled – but because there is no egg or mayonnaise, you don’t need to stress too much if it’s not over ice the whole time.

FAQ’s

Can I use store-bought pesto for this recipe?

Absolutely! While homemade pesto can add a fresh touch, store-bought pesto is a convenient and tasty alternative that works well in this dish.

How do I keep the orzo from sticking together?

To prevent sticking, stir the orzo occasionally while cooking and rinse it under cold water after draining. If mixing with pesto and sun-dried tomatoes immediately, a bit of olive oil from the sun-dried tomato jar can also help.

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare this dish in advance. Store it in the refrigerator and gently reheat it, adding a little water or extra pesto to moisten the orzo. It’s also delicious served cold or at room temperature as a pasta salad.

What type of sun-dried tomatoes should I use?

Either oil-packed or dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes work. If using dry-packed, consider rehydrating them in warm water for a few minutes before chopping to soften them up.

Is there a gluten-free option for orzo?

Yes, gluten-free orzo made from rice or corn is available in some stores. You can also substitute another small gluten-free pasta shape if you can’t find orzo.

How can I add protein to this dish?

Grilled chicken, shrimp, or even chunks of mozzarella or feta cheese can add protein to make this dish more filling. Cannellini beans are a great vegetarian option.

How should I store leftovers?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. The flavors often meld and taste even better the next day.

Can I freeze this dish?

Freezing is not recommended as the texture of the orzo and pesto may change upon thawing, becoming less appealing.

Can I add vegetables to this dish?

Certainly! Spinach, arugula, steamed broccoli, or roasted bell peppers make excellent additions that can add color, flavor, and nutrients to the dish.

orzo in a bowl with sun dried tomatoes and yellow peppers

What to Enjoy with Orzo with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil Pesto

Grilled Vegetables: Charred zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplant add a smoky flavor that complements the tanginess of the sun-dried tomatoes.

Roasted Chicken: A simple herb-roasted chicken serves as a lean protein option that pairs wonderfully with the rich flavors of the pesto and orzo.

Fresh Salad: A crisp green salad with a light vinaigrette can balance the richness of the pesto and provide a refreshing contrast.

Seafood: Grilled shrimp or seared scallops can add a luxurious touch to the dish, enhancing its Mediterranean vibe.

Feta Cheese: Crumbling some feta cheese on top adds a creamy texture and a salty kick that goes well with the basil and sun-dried tomatoes.

Artisan Bread: A slice of crusty artisan bread is perfect for soaking up any extra pesto sauce and rounding out the meal.

White Wine: A glass of crisp white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, complements the fresh and vibrant flavors of the dish.

Olives and Capers: Adding olives and capers to the dish or as a side can introduce a briny depth that matches the intensity of the sun-dried tomatoes.

Garlic Bread: For those who enjoy a bit of garlic, lightly toasted garlic bread makes an aromatic and flavorful addition.

Fresh Fruit: Finish the meal with a light dessert of fresh fruit, like a citrus salad or mixed berries, to cleanse the palate and add a sweet note.

Try my favorites like Vegan AntiPasti Pasta Salad, Scallop & Pepper Antipasti Salad, and Creamy Sausage Florentine Mushrooms.

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orzo in a bowl with sun dried tomatoes and yellow peppers

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Orzo With Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil Pesto

Easy one pot Orzo With Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil Pesto is a light vegan side dish everyone loves – slightly spicy, a little salty, and packed with sun dried tomato and pesto flavor in a quick pasta salad that is perfect for picnics, parties, or alongside fish, steak, chicken, or pork.
Course Pasta
Cuisine American
Keyword basil pasta salad, pasta, pasta salad, pesto, salad, side dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 392kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 2 cups orzo pasta
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups pesto
  • ½ cup sun dried tomatoes sliced thin
  • ½ cup sliced pepperoncini peppers
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts

Instructions

  • In a large pot, boil 4 cups water.
  • Add orzo and boil pasta to al dente.
  • Drain well.
  • In a large bowl, add orzo and the rest of the ingredients and stir, tossing to be sure it coats the pasta evenly.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight.
  • Serve with chicken, fish, steak, or mix into a salad for a delicious pasta salad!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 392kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 22g | Sodium: 391mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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