Bright, flavorful orzo pasta salad, packed with summer's freshest and best ingredients: chopped arugula and radicchio, basil, garlic, olives, sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts and parmesan cheese.
Why are so many pasta salads underwhelming? Because there's nothing delicious about cold noodles and mayonnaise, even if you throw in some chopped veggies. A truly great pasta salad is a rare commodity. When I discovered this one (nearly 20 years ago), it became my instant favorite and has been my go-to summer pasta salad ever since. A big bowl of this colorful orzo pasta salad on the buffet table is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
It's obvious from the name, Out-of-This-World Orzo Pasta Salad, and from all my raves, that I think pretty highly of this pasta salad recipe, but what you might not know, especially if you're new to Panning The Globe, is that I have a category of recipes called "Out of this world."
If you look at the drop-down menu across the very top of this site, you'll see the world's continents listed. All the way to the right, you'll see "out of this world." Although the mission of Panning The Globe is to find recipes from every country in the world, I created this extra category as a loophole for sharing fantastic recipes that aren't connected to a particular country or a continent.
How to make out-of-this-world orzo pasta salad
Once you've chopped everything, this recipe comes together fast.
- Cook and drain a pound of orzo pasta. Toss it immediately, while it's still hot, with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, chopped sun dried tomatoes and chopped Kalamata olives. The hot orzo will soak in all the wonderful flavors as it cools.
- Once the orzo is cool, toss it with the rest of the pasta salad ingredients: chopped radicchio, arugula, basil, toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese.
- For maximum flavor, serve this dish at room temperature.
Everyone can use a great pasta salad recipe for summer or really for any time of year. This one is fantastic!
Some great grilling recipes to serve alongside:
- Thai coconut BBQ ribs
- Aleppo Pepper Chicken (my favorite grilled chicken thighs recipe!)
- Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
- Korean BBQ Burgers
Out-of-This-World Orzo Pasta Salad Recipe
A vibrant, flavor-packed orzo pasta salad that's perfect for picnics, parties and backyard barbecues.
Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit (1998)
- Prep Time: 40 mins
- Cook Time: 7 mins
- Total Time: 47 mins
- Yield: 12-14 1x
- Category: Side dish
- Method: Boil
- Cuisine: Out of this World
- 1 pound orzo pasta
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ⅔ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (from a jar of drained, oil-packed sun dried tomatoes)
- ⅔ cup chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
- 5 teaspoons finely minced garlic (3-4 large cloves)
- 1 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 head of radicchio, cored and roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 ½ cups chopped arugula (about 3 ounces)
- 1 cup (loosely-packed) chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup (about 5 ounces) good quality freshly-grated parmigiana cheese, such as Parmigiana Reggiano
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Cook the pasta al dente (firm to the bite) in a pot of boiling water with teaspoon of salt. Drain orzo, transfer it to a large bowl, and immediately toss it, while it's hot, with the oil (6 tablespoons), balsamic (6 tablespoons), sun-dried tomatoes (⅔ cup), olives (⅔ cup) and garlic (5 teaspoons). Set pasta aside to cool for 20-30 minutes before proceeding to step 2. Or cover and store in the fridge for up to 24 hours, and bring to room temperature before proceeding.
- Once the pasta comes to room temperature, toss it with the rest of the ingredients: pine nuts (1 cup), radicchio (2 cups), arugula (1 ½ cups), basil (1 cup) and parmesan (1 cup). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.
- This pasta salad will keep for several days in the fridge but it's at its best the day you make it, when the basil is bright green and the lettuces are crisp.
[This post first appeared on Panning The Globe in July 2013. It was updated in April 2020 with new photos, added nutritional information, clarifying details in the written post and clearer instructions in the recipe.]
Keywords: orzo pasta salad, best pasta salad, favorite pasta salad