Fresh and flavorful, this bruschetta orzo pasta salad is going to be a summertime favorite! Bonus: No mayo or yogurt so it’s great for warm-weather picnics. Just say no to food poisoning!
Orzo in my mind is the perfect pasta for two things, pasta salad and soup. I love it for pasta salad because you always get this wonderful bite of pasta with all the other ingredients, unlike a bigger pasta shape where you might just get a bite of pasta and nothing else.
I love it in soup for sort of the same reason: you get a little bit in each bite. And there are no long noodles to slurp! No one wants to be seen doing that. I love orzo in this quick and easy meatball soup and this creamy tomato soup with whole wheat orzo. My new favorite is a one pot pasta dish: vegetarian orzo with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. So good!
I’ll throw all my favorite orzo pasta salad recipes at you at the end of this post, including one of my go-to potluck/BBQ orzo salads, but let’s talk about this one first!
I brought this to a party at my parent’s house. I knew it would be a large crowd, and this makes plenty! It also has wide appeal, with no strange or unusual ingredients. Most everyone knows and loves bruschetta and this bruschetta orzo pasta salad is no different – it’s a hit! We didn’t quite finish it and I’m happy to say that it tastes great leftover too.
I may or may not have eaten it alongside my scrambled eggs the next morning. Ben had fun with that one, but I always have loved a savory breakfast and I’m not embarrassed.
This orzo salad is so easy to make (which is another thing I like about it). I cook the pasta and stop the cooking and cool it down with cold water. While the pasta is cooking, you’ll mix together a few of the other ingredients (tomatoes, a few finely minced onions, garlic, white balsamic vinegar, GOOD olive oil, salt and pepper) and let them mingle awhile, allowing all the great flavors to soak into the tomatoes.
That mixture goes into the cooled pasta. The salad is completed with tons of fresh basil and shredded Parmesan cheese. It’s simple summer perfection and it doesn’t have mayonnaise or yogurt, so you can feel comfortable setting this out for a couple hours while people enjoy their food. Another one of my favorite summer salads with some of the same flavors is caprese pasta salad.
A few notes about this bruschetta pasta salad
- I use white balsamic vinegar. You can definitely also use traditional balsamic vinegar, but it will change the color of this salad (I don’t like it when it turns brown).
- I soak my onions in ice water before adding them to the salad. It’s optional, but it takes the strength of them down a notch and prevents them from being overwhelming.
- I use a variety of colors of tomatoes because I think it looks pretty! It’s not required, all red is totally fine.
- I recommend using really high-quality, flavorful, extra-virgin olive oil in this recipe (one I like a lot is California Olive Ranch). It’s such a fresh, light salad so the flavor of the olive oil really shines through. Using a great tasting olive oil will really make the flavors pop and elevate this orzo pasta salad from pretty good to outstanding.
- To make this a main meal, try adding grilled chicken with Italian marinade, or shrimp (these Grilled Garlic Basil Shrimp by My Baking Addiction look yummy). Or for a vegetarian meal, add cannellini beans.
PS: How good would this salad be with a tall glass of sangria? Here’s a great looking sangria recipe!
More Orzo Pasta Salad!
- Creamy Southwestern Orzo Salad (this one is my go-to!)
- Orzo Salad with Watermelon, Chicken and Feta (sounds strange, I know, but it’s so delicious!)
- Spinach Orzo Salad with Chicken Meatballs
- Orzo Salad with Yogurt Dill Dressing
- Orzo Salad with Chicken and Vegetables
- Greek Orzo Salad with Roasted Shrimp
- 1 box (16 oz.) orzo pasta
- 3 cups small-diced fresh tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons finely minced red onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (see note)
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (see note)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup minced fresh basil
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and salt. Stir to combine, cover, and set aside for 15 minutes for flavors to meld.
- Mix together pasta and tomato mixture until all ingredients are combined. Add basil and Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
- Serve immediately or store covered in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- I use white balsamic vinegar. You can definitely also use traditional balsamic vinegar, but it will change the color of this salad (I don't like it when it turns brown).
- I soak my onions in ice water before adding them to the salad. It's optional, but it takes the strength of them down a notch and prevents them from being overwhelming.
- I use a variety of colors of tomatoes because I think it looks pretty! It's not required, all red is totally fine.
- I recommend using really high-quality, flavorful, extra-virgin olive oil in this recipe. It's such a fresh, light salad so the flavor of the olive oil really shines through. Using a great tasting olive oil will really make the flavors pop and elevate this orzo pasta salad from pretty good to outstanding.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
Husband’s take: He said it had too much onion. I guess two little tablespoons in a giant bowl of pasta is too much. I’m not rolling my eyes.
Changes I would make: More onion. Ha, kidding. No changes necessary! If you want to bulk it up a little, it would be great with some fresh mozzarella tossed into the mix.