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!
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?!
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. 😉
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.
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!
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.
Wonderfully tasty main course suggestions to serve with your pasta salad:
And for Memorial Day or 4th of July dessert, try these fun patriotic dessert recipes:
OK, now I’m hungry, so let’s make this orzo pasta salad recipe!
Orzo Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad
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!
- 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
- Cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Set aside.
- Place all salad ingredients except cheese and basil into a large serving bowl. Set aside.
- Make the Fire Roasted Tomato Basil Vinaigrette
- 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.
- Taste and add additional salt if desired.
- Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and toss to combine. Garnish with shredded cheese and fresh basil.
- Store refrigerated in a tightly covered container for up to 5 days.