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Orzo pasta, cherry tomatoes, basil salad in a white bowl with wood salad tongs

Simple Orzo Pasta Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

  • Author: Gitta Grether-Sweeney
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 9 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Salads


Orzo pasta salad is a refreshing salad made with orzo, tomatoes, basil, and a fresh lemon dressing.  It is simple, fast, and delicious!  This is the perfect side for summer meals.   


Units Scale
  • 3/4 cup orzo pasta
  • 15 each grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 15 each fresh basil leaves


Prepare Orzo

  1. Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a medium saucepan.  
  2. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the boiling water and add the orzo.  Boil the orzo for 9 minutes or until al dente.

Prepare Tomatoes and Lemon Zest

  1. While the orzo is cooking, prepare the tomatoes and zest the lemon.
  2. Rinse the tomatoes under cold running water.  Cut them in half and place them in a bowl.
  3. Zest the lemon over the tomatoes.

Finish the Salad

  1. When the orzo is finished cooking, drain it in a fine-mesh strainer.  Add the hot cooked orzo to the tomatoes.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  The heat of the tomatoes will get the juice flowing from the tomatoes and release the flavor of the oils in the lemon zest.
  2.  Season the orzo pasta salad with salt and pepper.  Add the lemon juice and olive oil.  Toss to combine.
  3. Before serving, wash and dry the basil leaves.  
  4. Stack the basil leaves on top of each other.  Cut the basil into thin slices.  Add them to the orzo salad and toss to combine.
  5. The salad is best eaten at room temperature.
  6. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.  
  7. Enjoy!


  1.    Do not overcook the orzo or it will be mushy, and it will not work in the salad.
  2.    Add the HOT orzo pasta on top of the tomatoes and lemon zest.  The heat of the pasta will get the juices flowing from the tomatoes and will also release the flavors and oils from the lemon zest.
  3.    Use fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, not whole chopped tomatoes.
  4.    Use fresh basil.  Dried basil will not work in this recipe.
  5.    Cut the basil right before you are going to serve the salad. Otherwise, the cut edges of the leaves will turn brown.
  6.    The salad is best eaten at room temperature.


  • Serving Size: Portion
  • Calories: 226
  • Sugar: 15.3 g
  • Sodium: 184.1 mg
  • Fat: 8.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35.1 g
  • Protein: 7.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: lemon orzo pasta salad, basil, tomato, summer