I have a confession: I’d never cooked orzo before this salad. I’d also never really made pasta salads – the texture just isn’t quite right. However, this salad is good. Really good. It’s perfect for taking to work or school for lunch, or for picnics in the summer.
I actually made this for my mum for her to take with her for lunch and it’s her new favourite! It’s perfect because it’s pretty, can be made in advance, and keeps well for a couple of days in the fridge. We’re always looking for new ideas of things to take in packed lunches – after a while you just can’t face any more sandwiches! I actually photographed it in her lunchbox since it shows a perfect portion and I love the shade of green! This type of lunchbox is perfect for salads like this, as well as being microwaveable.
The vinaigrette keeps the orzo just moist enough, as well as evenly seasoning the salad and adding a hint of lemon. This really helps the other ingredients to shine. If you have a preferred vinaigrette recipe that you’d rather use then feel free to try it, but I like the simplicity of this one. It doesn’t really need any other herbs or flavourings since the other ingredients are so delicious!
We used half a ball of fresh mozzarella in the salad, but you could try other cheeses such as feta. The mozzarella helps to keep the Italian theme, but I won’t judge. If you don’t have a basil plant then it might not be worth buying fresh basil for this small amount. Try using dried basil or mixed Italian herbs in the vinaigrette instead. By doing this, you may loose some of the flavour and colour, but it’s better than nothing. Sun-dried tomatoes can be switched out too – halve a handful of juicy cherry tomatoes and throw them in instead!
If you prefer a more filling salad, you could add some cooked chicken marinaded in Italian herbs, or other veggies such as red peppers and rocket leaves. You could add other fresh herbs if you really want to boost the herb flavour. I would recommend oregano, thyme and parsley for this, although most soft herbs would be delicious. It’s completely up to you and your personal tastes, but I like this classic and simple combination.
Mozzarella, Sundried Tomato & Herb Orzo Pasta Salad
- 100 g orzo dry weight, cooked and cooled
- 1/4 red onion cut in to thin crescents
- 5 sundried tomatoes sliced
- Handful black olives pitted and halved
- 65 g mozzarella diced
- 2 sprigs basil chopped
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tsp lemon juice fresh or bottled
- salt and pepper to season
- Toss the orzo in the vinaigrette to coat. It should be easy to separate the pieces rather than remaining clumped together.
- If serving immediately, toss the orzo gently with the other ingredients, saving a little basil to garnish. If not, store all ingredients in the fridge until ready to serve and then toss gently.