Summer Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad {Fireworks Orzo Salad}

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Orzo pasta and bright, flavorful, and healthy summer vegetables are tossed with a tangy tomato vinaigrette in this delicious easy pasta salad recipe! It’s the perfect side dish for an outdoor picnic, potluck dinner, or summer holiday get-togethers!

Orzo Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad - The perfect summer side dish recipe for a picnic, potluck, or just a meatless vegetarian side dish.

I blogged about my love for the 4th of July in a previous post, and in that post, I mentioned what a sentimental holiday it is for me. Today, I’m combining two loves into one post. I created a delicious and somewhat gorgeous recipe for an orzo pasta side dish.

I nicknamed this side dish, Fireworks Orzo Pasta Salad.

You’ll find out the secret “fireworks” ingredient soon, but how flipping fun are these fireworks pudding cookies from my friend Dorothy?!

Fireworks Pudding Cookies

Fireworks Pudding Cookies, from Crazy for Crust

When I was 15 years old, my dad passed away, just after midnight on July 5th. The last time I saw him was at the 4th of July fireworks display. He and my mom, siblings and I would go to watch them together every year. It was a fun family tradition that I always looked forward to.

We’d start the day with a family cookout and end it with fireworks display. My dad was “King Grill Master Extraordinaire”. He could take a piece of boring chicken and turn it into the best grilled chicken, a mouthwatering, juicy piece of barbecued chicken, with one wave of his spatula. Well, that and about 30 minutes of hovering over the grill, pushing the bystanders away. 😉

best grilled chicken

Best Grilled Chicken, image from NoblePig.com.

My mom was “Queen of the Garden”, so she would make a delicious pasta salad or veggie dish to go with the chicken, using her garden vegetables.
Orzo Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad - This side dish recipe has fresh veggies, vibrant colors, and an explosion of flavor, just like fireworks!

I live in an apartment complex and don’t have a garden, but I’m always able to find good produce at affordable prices at my local grocery store.  They typically have a nice  selection to choose from, too.

 Summer Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad - This side dish recipe has fresh veggies, vibrant colors, and an explosion of flavor, just like fireworks! - Get the recipe from @itsyummi

 

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate fresh veggies in the summer than with this delicious orzo salad. Because the salad is colorful and it has a beautiful burst of flavor, it reminds me of a fireworks display.

That’s why I call it Fireworks Orzo Pasta Salad!
Orzo Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad - The perfect side dish recipe for an outdoor party, picnic, potluck, or every day vegetarian side dish.

Because it doesn’t have any mayonnaise in it, the pasta salad is the perfect picnic side dish. It can safely sit out in the sun for a while without fear of nasty bacterial fungi growing on it.

This orzo summer vegetable pasta salad is a side dish recipe with fresh veggies, vibrant colors, and an explosion of flavor, just like fireworks!

Wonderfully tasty main course suggestions to serve with your pasta salad:

Cajun Smoked Spare Ribs

Cajun-Spiced Smoked Spare Ribs Recipe from ItsYummi.com - This recipe has an option for smoking the ribs with a smoker or baking them in an oven. They're dry rubbed first and then finished off with a tangy Louisiana style barbecue sauce.

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Recipe on ItsYummi.com

Spicy Ranch Burgers

Spicy Ranch Burgers

And for Memorial Day or 4th of July dessert, try these fun patriotic dessert recipes:

4th of July milkshakes

4th of July Milkshakes

4th of July Cupcakes

Patriotic recipes don't get much more fun than these "Old Glory" patriotic cupcakes! They're a fun snack or dessert for the 4th of July or Memorial Day. Get the recipe from ItsYummi.com

Patriotic Pinwheel Cookies

I love patriotic recipes like these! Pinwheel Cookies Recipe from @itsyummi

OK, now I’m hungry, so let’s make this orzo pasta salad recipe!

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Orzo Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad

Prep Time 15 min Cook Time Serves 6

This orzo salad combines fresh garden veggies, tender orzo pasta, and a tangy fire roasted tomato and basil vinaigrette dressing with a kick of chili flakes. Looks as colorful as fireworks and has a nice explosion of flavor, too!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta (will yield about 2 cups cooked)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large seedless cucumber (sometimes called English cucumber), diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped or cut chiffonade style

For the Fire Roasted Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 15-20 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small pinch red pepper flakes
  • 4 ounces olive oil

Directions

  1. Cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. Place all salad ingredients except cheese and basil into a large serving bowl. Set aside.

Make the Fire Roasted Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

  1. Place all vinaigrette ingredients except for oil into a blender. Process on high speed for 15 seconds. With blender running on high, slowly pour olive oil into the blender to combine with other ingredients. Blend on high speed for 15-20 seconds, or until well blended and creamy.
  2. Taste and add additional salt if desired.
  3. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and toss to combine. Garnish with shredded cheese and fresh basil.
  4. Store refrigerated in a tightly covered container for up to 5 days.
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If you make this recipe, I'd love it if you'd share a photo and/or give your feedback over on my Facebook page, Cooking with Chef Bec!
Summer Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad - This side dish recipe has fresh veggies, vibrant colors, and an explosion of flavor, just like fireworks!

24 Replies to "Summer Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad {Fireworks Orzo Salad}"

  • Homemade Cream of Tomato Soup w/ Grilled Cheese Croutons December 3, 2015 (3:16 pm)

    […] and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, then served it with a side of Brian’s favorite side dish, orzo vegetable salad and I finished up with an easy dessert of Snickers cupcakes. Boom. […]

  • How to Keep Fresh Produce Crispy ~ Its Yummi January 16, 2015 (3:12 pm)

    […] You can use these tips the next time you’re preparing a great side dish, like this fireworks orzo salad. […]

  • Summer Davis July 6, 2014 (11:13 pm)

    What a sweet story. I’m sorry about your dad, even though it’s been a long time. Your Orzo salad really does look like fireworks and I wanna eat it right now! #client

    • Chef Becca July 6, 2014 (11:24 pm)

      Thanks for the sweet comment, Summer. 🙂

  • Natasha in Oz June 25, 2014 (8:51 pm)

    That looks SO good! Thanks for the recipe.

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  • Annie June 25, 2014 (12:16 pm)

    I love how colorful this is! Such a perfect summertime salad, so fresh!

  • Heather June 25, 2014 (11:30 am)

    we love orzo salad, especially in the summer. yours looks so fresh and delicious

  • David June 25, 2014 (8:08 am)

    What a fun salad, Becca! And what a great post about your Dad. I hope the 4th of July isn’t too bittersweet for you every year. He sounds like a great man!

    • Chef Becca June 25, 2014 (8:39 am)

      Thanks, Dave! My dad and I were very close, because I was born on his birthday, so yeah… sentimental goof that I am, I have a lot of bittersweet memories, but I’m glad that I have them! 🙂

  • Deb Harrington June 24, 2014 (4:43 pm)

    This is a gorgeous looking salad, consider it pinned! I’ve never had orzo pasta; no time like the present. 😉 Please accept my heartfelt sympathies for the loss of your father, and at such a young age. I’m sure the 4th is also a time you celebrate the “King Grill Master Extraordinaire!” Thoughts and prayers are with you Chef Becca! 🙂

    • Chef Becca June 24, 2014 (5:10 pm)

      Thank you so much, Deb. If you’ve never tried orzo pasta, you’re in for a treat. It’s a great cross between rice and heavy pasta.
      You’re right… the 4th is an awesome day of celebrating the wonderful man that my dad was 🙂

  • Janice Dean June 24, 2014 (3:30 pm)

    This looks fantastic! I pinned it to try. Thanks so much

    • Chef Becca June 24, 2014 (3:31 pm)

      Thank you, Janice.. oh, and isn’t Pinterest the most awesome tool on the Internet?! I love it! 🙂

  • Todd Jamieson June 24, 2014 (3:22 pm)

    That looks so beautiful, I now have my 4th of July meal: Orzo and Short Ribs in the crock pot! Thanks Becca, your awesome!

    • Chef Becca June 24, 2014 (3:28 pm)

      Thanks so much, Todd. Love you lots, my sweet friend!

  • Laura June 24, 2014 (2:27 pm)

    This recipe sounds amazing. It’s so pretty too!

  • Monica Jertson Cateron June 24, 2014 (2:10 pm)

    Oh I am definitely making this !!! I love orzo and am always looking for new ways to use it !!

    • Chef Becca June 24, 2014 (2:19 pm)

      Yay! You CAME! 🙂 Thanks, Monica!

  • Karen June 24, 2014 (1:44 pm)

    I’ve heard you talk about your dad before with such love that it’s evident how much you miss him.

    I ADORE orzo. I’ve never had it cold. I will now!

    • Chef Becca June 24, 2014 (2:04 pm)

      Yeah… little girls who love their dads grow up to be adult women who miss their dads 🙂

      I think you’ll love this salad! Orzo is such a cute, harmless looking pasta… <3

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