Caprese Orzo Salad with Pesto

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Caprese salad ingredients–tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella-take on a different twist in this orzo salad with pesto. Great dish to bring to a cookout or picnic.


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and tightly packed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts or toasted pumpkin seeds for nut free pesto
  • 1 lb orzo
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 6 ozs fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes of 1 inch or slightly smaller
  • 1 14.5 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed


  1. Start the water boiling for the orzo as you make the pesto.
  2. Make the pesto: Have a food processor at the ready. Put the basil into the food processor, and give it a quick whir to begin chopping the basil and make room for the other ingredients.
  3. Add the garlic, and hit that food processor button again to get the cloves chopped up with the basil.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, and then puree to get everything well combined. Open the food processor, scrape the sides to get bits of garlic and basil that haven’t been incorporated, then give the processor a final whir. Set the pesto aside.
  5. Meanwhile, add the orzo to the boiling water. Cook according to package instructions, taking care not to overcook.
  6. When cooked, drain the orzo in a colander. Rinse with cold water, tossing a few times to cool off the orzo and get all the water drained.
  7. Transfer the orzo to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil, and several scoops of the pesto. You want the orzo to be thoroughly coated with the pesto at this point.
  8. Add the cannellini beans, tomatoes and another scoop of pesto, stir to combine.
  9. Gently stir in the mozzarella cheese. Add additional pesto at this point if you like. Any remaining pesto can be offered alongside the serving bowl for people that want extra.
  10. You can either serve this immediately or reserve for later use. Refrigerate if you won’t be using within an hour or two; but bring out of the refrigerator for an hour before serving. Stir in an extra tablespoon of pesto right before serving to freshen it up.
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