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Easy Summer Orzo Salad

Last updated on January 26th, 2024 at 10:07 pm

This easy summer orzo salad is chuck full of seasonal produce and flavors such as grilled corn, cherry tomatoes, shrimp, avocado, pesto and feta cheese. 

a serving bowl of summer orzo salad with a towel and a serving spoon next to it

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This easy orzo salad celebrates all the delicious flavors summer has to offer. It is loaded with the delicious flavors of sweet corn and tomatoes, salty feta cheese, creamy avocado and it’s all tossed in a complimenting basil pesto.

I love how easy pasta salads are to make and this one is no exception. It can also be made ahead of time, which gives all those beautiful flavors time to meld together.

This recipe makes enough to feed a crowd, so it is perfect for entertaining. Think backyard BBQ, potluck or holiday celebration, and I promise everyone will be asking for the recipe by the end of the day.

Take advantage of fresh seasonal produce when possible. Try to buy your corn, tomatoes and basil from a local farm stand or farmer’s market. The difference in flavor will be worth the trip (and it’s always great to support small local businesses!)

a close up for the easy summer orzo salad

Key Ingredients

Orzo: orzo is a small, short grain pasta that resembles large grains of rice. You can find it in the pasta aisle.
Shrimp: I recommend medium shrimp or large shrimp that you cut into smaller bite sized pieces. You can buy raw or cooked shrimp. Cooked shrimp will save you some prep time.
Corn: corn on the cob is best. Grilling the fresh corn adds so much flavor and sweetness. However, frozen corn can be used in a pinch or if it’s out of season.
Cherry tomatoes: this recipe is meant to celebrate the produce that’s in season in late summer. Tomatoes are so sweet and delicious this time of year and compliments the pesto.
Avocado: I polled my followers on Instagram whether I should add avocado or zucchini to this recipe and avocado won, so that’s what I used. I believe it was the right decision!
Feta: I love the salty and savory flavors the feta adds to this dish.
Pesto: use store bought or make homemade pesto. I used the Vegan Kale and Cashew Pesto from Trader Joe’s because it’s one of my favorites.
Fresh basil: love the additional pop of flavor and freshness the basil provides. It’s also the perfect garnish.

a flat lay of the orzo salad ingredients

Equipment

Pasta pot and strainer
Grill or grill pan
Tongs
Cutting board and knife
Measuring cups and spoons
Large serving bowl

Instructions

Cook the orzo according to package instructions until al dente. Strain and rinse orzo to cool it down and stop the cooking process. Toss orzo with olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking.

Chop the cherry tomatoes into quarters, chop the fresh basil and dice the avocado.

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat. Grill the corn on all sides until charred. Allow the corn to cool completely, then cut the corn off the cob.

three ears of charred corn on a grill pan

Grill the shrimp 2-3 minutes on each side.

In a large serving bowl, combine the orzo, shrimp, corn, cherry tomatoes, feta, avocado, pesto and basil. Toss well so everything is coated in pesto.

Garnish with additional feta and fresh basil.

Tips

  • Cut everything into equal sized pieces so you can get everything in one bite.
  • Toss the orzo with olive oil after rinsing to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  • If you are using a grill to grill the shrimp, thread the shrimp onto skewers or grill on aluminum foil to avoid losing shrimp through the grill grates.
  • An easy way to cut the corn off the cob: lay corn cobs down flat on the cutting board, cut the corn off along one side and then rotate the cob a quarter and repeat.
  • Add the avocado last and toss gently to prevent smushing.

all the orzo ingredients in a bowl before being tossed

FAQ

Should this summer orzo salad be eaten warm or cold?

This recipe is delicious eaten warm or cold. However, I prefer to eat it cold in the summertime. If you plan to eat it warm, serve right away. Reheating this pasta salad may cause the shrimp to become chewy.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes. This orzo salad can be made the day before or the morning of. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. All the flavors will meld together and for this reason, this dish is also great leftover!

How long does this orzo salad last?

You can store this orzo salad in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

What should I serve this with?

Main dishes: marinated and grilled chicken, kabobs, grilled salmon, sandwiches, paninis

Other side dishes: caprese salad, greens salad, bean-based salad, broccoli cauliflower salad, grilled vegetables, corn on the cob

a large serving dish with a completed easy summer orzo salad with a serving spoon

Substitutions

Orzo: any short grain pasta shape can be used for this recipe.
Corn: fresh corn on the cob is highly recommended. However, if it is not available, frozen corn will work. Defrost and then cook in a hot cast iron pan until slightly charred.
Feta: goat cheese, queso fresco or cotija are all great options that can be used on place of feta.
Dairy free: Omit the feta cheese or use a vegan feta cheese alternative. I love this one from Violife.
Gluten free: for a gluten free recipe, use a gluten free orzo, such as this one from Delallo.

More Recipes You’ll Love

If you make this Summer Orzo Salad, be sure to leave a comment below and rate this recipe! If you snap a pic, be sure to tag me on Instagram @thechowdown! I love seeing your creations!

a serving bowl of summer orzo salad with a towel and a serving spoon next to it
Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes

Easy Summer Orzo Salad

This easy summer orzo salad is chuck full of seasonal produce and flavors such as grilled corn, cherry tomatoes, shrimp, avocado, pesto and feta cheese. 
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: corn and shrimp orzo salad, grilled corn and shrimp orzo salad, orzo salad with corn, orzo salad with feta, orzo salad with shrimp, pesto orzo salad
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb orzo pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 ears corn on the cob
  • 1 lb medium shrimp
  • 1 1/2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • 3/4 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  • Cook the orzo according to package instructions until al dente. Strain and rinse orzo to cool it down and stop the cooking process. Toss orzo with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat. Grill the corn on all sides until charred. Allow the corn to cool completely, then cut the corn off the cob. 
  • Grill the shrimp 2-3 minutes on each side.
  • In a large serving bowl, combine the orzo, shrimp, corn, cherry tomatoes, feta, avocado, pesto and basil. Toss well so everything is coated in pesto. 
  • Garnish with additional feta and fresh basil.

Notes

Notes:
  1. If you are using a grill to grill the shrimp, thread the shrimp onto skewers or grill on aluminum foil to avoid losing shrimp through the grill grates. 
  2. Easy way to cut the corn off the cob: lay corn cobs down flat on the cutting board, cut the corn off along one side and then rotate the cob a quarter and repeat.
  3. Add the avocado last and toss gently to prevent smushing. 

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Recipe Rating




5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This orzo looks incredible. I love all the fresh flavours in this dish!

  2. 5 stars
    I love all the flavors of this salad. Refreshing and light something I needed on my busy schedule.

  3. Amanda Dixon says:

    5 stars
    This is such a lovely summer salad! Every bite was so refreshing, and I especially love the flavor the pesto and feta added.

  4. 5 stars
    So light and fresh. I love all the textures and flavors in this salad!

  5. 5 stars
    I am such a fan of orzo salads in the summer and this was to die for. Thanks for sharing!