The fresh flavors of lemon, basil and garlic work to perfection in the Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta Salad. This easy pasta salad is made with only 5 ingredients and a little seasoning. It can be prepared in minutes, but packs a real punch of flavor.
Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta Salad
My kids LOVE orzo pasta and I am always looking a new ways to cook with it. While the sun is shining, this Lemon Basil Orzo Salad is a go-to recipe as it’s something I know the whole family will enjoy.
When going to a cookout, barbecue, potluck, or other gathering, pasta salad is a dish that’s guaranteed to be a hit. I always bring a pasta salad as it can be prepared in advance and stores really well.
In fact my Lemon Orzo Salad tastes better the longer you leave it to sit in the refrigerator. The flavors have time to meld together and become more intense.
While I have several delicious pasta salad recipes here at When Is Dinner that I hope you’ll try, Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta Salad is a unique, interesting, and yummy twist on Pasta Salad.
If, like me, you enjoy pasta salads over the warm summer months, then don’t miss some of my other favorite Pasta Salad recipes:
- Asian Pasta Salad
- Creamy Bacon Parmesan Pasta Salad
- Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- Simple Pasta Salad
- Tomato Cucumber Greek Pasta Salad
How to make Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta Salad
- Cook orzo according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, begin to make the sauce/dressing.
- 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 – DO NOT rinse.
- Put the pasta back in the pot or in a serving dish and pour the lemon basil mixture on top immediately, while the orzo is still hot.
- Toss to coat.
- Serve warm or cold with an optional garnish of some grated Parmesan cheese.
Lemon Basil Pasta Salad recipe ingredients:
- PASTA: I use a pound of orzo pasta to serve 4.
- LEMON: Use a fresh lemon as you need both the juice and zest from the lemon in the salad dressing.
- BASIL: You need to use fresh basil and not dried as it has a far stronger flavor.
- OIL: I recommend using extra virgin olive oil as it has the best nutty flavor for salad dressings. You could also use regular olive oil.
- GARLIC: Crushed fresh garlic cloves give this salad it’s punchy flavor.
- SEASONING: I keep seasoning simple with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- GARNISH: You can add an option garnish of some freshly grated Parmesan Cheese and a few fresh basil leaves just before serving.
Flavor variations & substitutions:
- Orzo is a great small pasta shape, perfect for pasta salad. You can use any other pasta shape, but I think smaller pasta works best in this dish.
- Use gluten free pasta if serving to celiacs or anyone following a gluten free diet.
- Swap basil for another soft leafy herb like parsley, chives, dill, cilantro or tarragon.
- Chop up and stir through some extra fruits and veggies, like cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes or olives.
Recipe hints & tips:
- Only cook the pasta to al dente, you still want it to have a little bite.
- Once cooked, do not drain the pasta as you will remove all the starch. You need the starch to help the salad dressing stick to the pasta.
- This recipe can be easily doubled or trebled if feeding a crowd.
- To make a gluten free lemon basil pasta salad, use a gluten free pasta.
Serve this salad warm or cold, it tastes delicious either way. Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta Salad makes a great side salad and can be served with a whole variety of main dishes. It works well with seafood, fish, chicken or meat.
However, you can serve this as a light salad main too, making this easy pasta salad a great prep ahead lunch recipe. Why not stir through some extra veggies along with some grilled shrimps or chicken, or a ball of mozzarella cheese, for added protein.
No, whilst orzo pasta looks like a grain of rice, it is entirely different. Rice is a grain, whereas orzo is a pasta that is made with wheat flour.
No a traditional orzo pasta is made with Durum wheat flour so is not gluten free. If you are celiac, or following a gluten free diet, you will need to look for a suitable gluten free pasta alternative.
Leftover lemon basil pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days. If it starts to dry out, add a splash of olive oil.
Pasta salad is a great make ahead salad as it actually tastes better the next day, once the flavors have had a change to meld together.
No, I don’t recommend freezing this pasta salad, it’s best eaten fresh. If frozen the pasta will break down during the freezing and defrosting process.
Don’t miss these other delicious Lemon Recipes here at When Is Dinner:
- Paleo Lemon Bars
- Keto Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake
- Lemon Sugar Cookie Pie
- Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
- Strawberry Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Lemon Chicken Zoodle Bowls
- Easy Lemon Bars
- Lemon Turmeric Popsicles
- 1 lb orzo pasta
- Juice and zest of 1 medium lemon
- 1 fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Optional – grated parmesan
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 315Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 356mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 3gSugar: 10gProtein: 10g
These are a few items I find helpful when preparing this Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta Salad Recipe in my own kitchen:
Hamilton Beach (70730) Food Processor & Vegetable Chopper with Bowl Scraper, 10 Cup, ElectricOXO Good Grips Zester and GraterEuro Ceramica Zanzibar Collection Vibrant 8.4Super Easy Cookbook for Beginners: 5-Ingredient Recipes and Essential Techniques to Get You Started in the KitchenGotta Have It Quick & Easy To Make 37 Tempting Orzo Salad Recipes!Easy Pasta Salad Cookbook: 50 Delicious Pasta Salad Recipes