Caprese Orzo Salad
This is such a pretty salad, and it’s delicious, too! Nobody can resist the combination of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella, and when you pair it with fun to eat orzo, you’ve got a winner. This Caprese Orzo Salad is super easy to make, is easy to double if you’re feeding a crowd, and it’s perfect any time of the year. As a side dish or a light entree, this easy salad recipe is always fabulous!
I love cooking with orzo. It’s a small, rice-shaped pasta that cooks quickly and can be used in so many different dishes. You can find orzo pasta with all the other pasta in the grocery store, so it’s commonly available.
Caprese Orzo Salad
When you pair orzo with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and a sweet and tangy dressing, magic happens. This pasta salad looks so pretty with the red, white, and green colors in it, and because you’re not using a chunky noodle shape, it is delicate and more refined looking.
The secret to this recipe is using mozzarella pearls. They are also called perline, and they’re tiny balls of fresh mozzarella. You can find them in the deli section of your grocery store, and they’re packed in water. They’re not the same as the mozzarella you’d shred for pizza. They have a mild, sweet flavor and slightly different texture.
If you can’t find the fresh mozzarella pearls, look for larger balls of water-packed mozzarella and just cut them into small cubes.
Perfect for lunch, as a side dish with dinner, or even for brunch, this versatile salad is always a hit!
Why I love this recipe
- It’s easy to make, delicious to eat, and so pretty!
- You can make it in advance and then toss the dressing with the salad before serving.
- All the ingredients are readily available.
Gather these ingredients to make Orzo Caprese Salad
- Dry orzo pasta – You’ll need a 16-oz package. We also love to use the Delallo brand (Whole Wheat Orzo)
- Olive oil
- Fresh mozzarella pearls
- Grape tomatoes – Halved.
- Fresh basil – Sliced in a chiffonade (see my tips below).
- Balsamic vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- Fresh garlic – Finely chopped.
- Salt and cracked black pepper
- Garlic powder
How to make Caprese Orzo Salad
- Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain it and rinse it with cold tap water to stop it from cooking, then drain it well again, toss it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to prevent it from sticking, and set it aside.
- Prepare the dressing by combining the remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, minced garlic, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk it well to combine, or shake it in a jar with a tightly fitting lid.
- Add the drained mozzarella pearls, halved grape tomatoes, and all but 2 tablespoons of the fresh basil to the bowl with the orzo and toss to combine.
- Drizzle the dressing over the mixture and mix gently.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Refrigerate the salad until ready to serve, and garnish with the remaining basil.
Tips & substitutions
- If you can’t find mozzarella pearls, use a larger ball of water-packed fresh mozzarella and cut it into cubes.
- You can use cherry tomatoes but cut them into quarters if they’re larger.
- To chiffonade basil, stack rinsed leaves on top of each other and then roll them into a cigar shape. Cut across the rolled basil, creating thin shreds.
- Basil doesn’t like to be cold and can turn black – if you’re not serving the salad right away, add the basil just before serving.
- You can cook the pasta up to 2 days in advance, then cover it and refrigerate it. The dressing can also be made a few days in advance. If you toss the dressing with the salad, it’ll keep for about a day in the fridge.
This is the perfect summertime salad. It has such a bright, fresh, and herbaceous flavor making it the perfect side dish to a meal of grilled burgers or chicken. I also love serving it with fish like on this fish burger board, and of course, anything Mediterranean. I also love it on its own as a light meal with a bowl of soup.
Store any leftover Caprese Orzo Salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. This salad won’t freeze well; it is best eaten fresh.
Check out these awesome pasta salad recipes while you’re here
- Easy Italian Pasta Salad
- Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
- Bay Shrimp Pasta Salad
- Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad
Get the Recipe:
Caprese Orzo Salad
- 1 pkg dry orzo, We love to use the Delallo brand (Whole Wheat Orzo)
- 12 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls, "perline" or tiny balls, drained
- 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup fresh basil, sliced in a chiffonade
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 large cloves garlic, pressed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cook the orzo in salted water according to package directions. Drain well. Allow to cool in a large bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil and mix together to prevent sticking. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
- While the orzo is cooking and cooling, prepare the dressing by combining the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon, honey, minced garlic, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Whisk in a bowl or vigorously shake in a jar (with a tight lid on).
- To the large bowl of cooked, cooled orzo, add the (drained) mozzarella balls, tomato halves, and ½ cup of fresh basil (minus a small amount for garnish). Gently mix together. Pour the dressing over the mixture and lightly toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Refrigerate the salad until ready to serve. Right before serving, add a sprinkle of basil on top and serve!
- TIP: if using larger mozzarella balls (if you can't find the perls), cut them in half. If you use cherry tomatoes, cut them in half.
Hello and welcome to my home and table!
I’m Sandy—lover of food, family, cooking, THE BIG BOARD, travel, and bringing people together. Through great recipes and connection around the table, we become better, stronger, and more courageous people. Feasting on Life is real, and every time we do it, we grow a little more. Read more...