Grow Your Own Garden: Orzo Pasta Salad with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella

It’s that time of year again, tomato time. I’ve been considering not eating tomatoes during the rest of the year. They don’t taste as good when they’re not in season, and why not save my appetite for the good stuff? I’m feeling particularly fond of the over-abundance of sweet, flavorful  tomatoes that take over our gardens and counter tops during this hot and sunny time of year.  This is my first summer growing my own garden. And the tomato plants are stroking my gardening ego, and making me feel like I’m actually good at this as they’ve grown quickly and heartily into big plump juicy red fruits.

And then the question becomes, what to do with all of these red guys. We had so many tomatoes when I was a kid that my mother made tomato sauce and froze it in dozens of plastic bags to save in our basement freezer for the winter.


Basil plants like the summer sun too, so to embrace our garden’s  bounty so far, I made a summer pesto pasta salad with orzo, pesto, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella. This simple and delicious dish is great served hot our cold and is an awesome side to bring to a barbeque or potluck. I served it with grilled trout.



Orzo Pasta Salad with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Serves 6

  • 1 lb orzo pasta
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup mozzarella balls, halved
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Marcona almonds
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook Orzo in boiling salted water until cooked through but still  slightly firm to the bite. Drain and reserve.

In a food processor, chop garlicn a food processor, blend the garlic and basil until pureed. Add the olive oil in  a steady stream. Once the olive oil is combined, add the Marcona almonds and process until combined. Using a spatula, transfer puree into large bowl and fold in Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the orzo, tomatoes and mozzarella and toss to coat with pesto.


1 Comment

Filed under Dinner, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Pasta, Side, Summer, Vegetarian

One response to “Grow Your Own Garden: Orzo Pasta Salad with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella

  1. Jenny

    this looks super yummy! and what a great idea for a hot summer salad. now i know what to do with the basil i just planted, and the leftover marcona almonds we have! thanks for the recipe 🙂

    oh and you are so right about summer tomatoes! and i totally remember those frozen bags of tomatoes!!!


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