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Caprese Orzo Salad

Caprese Orzo Salad is a vibrant summer pasta salad featuring juicy tomatoes, creamy balls of mozzarella, and ribbons of fresh basil, all topped off with a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette!

Caprese Orzo Salad ~ a vibrant summer pasta salad featuring juicy tomatoes, creamy balls of mozzarella, and ribbons of fresh basil, all topped off with a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette! | FiveHeartHome.com

I live in the south, and if you’ve ever seen Steel Magnolias, you already know that homegrown tomatoes are a religion down here. I don’t have my own garden, but lucky for me, my green thumb of a father-in-law does. And thanks to his benevolence, we are the lucky recipients of a plethora of garden-fresh produce each summer. And guess which variety is my favorite???

Caprese Orzo Salad ~ a vibrant summer pasta salad featuring juicy tomatoes, creamy balls of mozzarella, and ribbons of fresh basil, all topped off with a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette! | FiveHeartHome.com

We had a hail storm back in April that not only gifted us with a new roof, but it also forced my father-in-law to replant the majority of his garden. So while his tomatoes typically start rolling in come June, he’s just now getting this summer’s tomato bounty in July.

Caprese Orzo Salad ~ a vibrant summer pasta salad featuring juicy tomatoes, creamy balls of mozzarella, and ribbons of fresh basil, all topped off with a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette! | FiveHeartHome.com

So guess what that means? It’s time for homegrown tomato sandwiches and fresh caprese salads and homemade marinara sauce and every incarnation of tomato glory that you can imagine! Yup, I am so excited that tomato season has arrived. And I am downright thrilled with how delicious this tomato-starring Caprese Orzo Salad turned out!

Caprese Orzo Salad ~ a vibrant summer pasta salad featuring juicy tomatoes, creamy balls of mozzarella, and ribbons of fresh basil, all topped off with a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette! | FiveHeartHome.com

Let’s be honest here. Caprese anything is a pretty equal opportunity-type recipe. Sure, the tomatoes are important. But so is the creamy, water-packed mozzarella. And so is the fresh, vibrant, chiffonade of basil. In this Caprese Orzo Salad, of course, cute little pieces of orzo pasta play a big role, too, as does a bursting-with-flavor balsamic vinaigrette dressing. In fact, the vinaigrette is amazing on just about any type of salad, so don’t feel like you need to limit its fabulousness to Caprese Orzo Salad…use it on anything and everything!

Caprese Orzo Salad ~ a vibrant summer pasta salad featuring juicy tomatoes, creamy balls of mozzarella, and ribbons of fresh basil, all topped off with a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette! | FiveHeartHome.com

Bottom line? This pasta salad recipe is so yummy, y’all. Like, happily-eat-it-for-lunch-every-day-until-it’s-gone yummy. Like, watch-it-disappear-at-any-get-together yummy. Like, have-the-recipe-handy-because-everybody’s-bound-to-ask yummy.

Caprese Orzo Salad ~ a vibrant summer pasta salad featuring juicy tomatoes, creamy balls of mozzarella, and ribbons of fresh basil, all topped off with a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette! | FiveHeartHome.com

Simple ingredients. Bold flavors. Utter summer pasta salad bliss.

Caprese Orzo Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Caprese Orzo Salad

Caprese Orzo Salad is a vibrant summer pasta salad featuring juicy tomatoes, creamy balls of mozzarella, and ribbons of fresh basil, all topped off with a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (7-ounces) dry orzo
  • 8 ounces fresh (water-packed) mozzarella pearls ("perline," or tiny balls)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (1/2-ounce) bunch fresh basil, sliced in a chiffonade
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the orzo in salted water according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool, tossing occasionally so that the orzo doesn't clump together.
  2. While the orzo is cooking and cooling, prepare the dressing by combining the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon, honey, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. You may whisk it vigorously in a bowl, shake it in a tightly-sealed jar, or pulse it in a mini food processor.
  3. Once the orzo is cool, transfer to a large bowl. Carefully mix in fresh mozzarella, tomato halves, basil chiffonade, and about 2/3 of the prepared vinaigrette, or as much as you prefer. Adjust salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled, stirring in additional dressing just before serving (since the dressing will soak into the pasta while in the fridge).

Notes

After cooking the orzo, I prefer not to rinse it since the starch helps the vinaigrette adhere to the pasta. However, it's important to occasionally toss/stir the orzo as it cools to prevent it from clumping. Alternatively, if you already have the vinaigrette prepared, you can stir in a bit which will also prevent sticking.

If you can't find mozzarella pearls, it's okay to buy a big ball of fresh mozzarella and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.

If making the vinaigrette with a very high quality balsamic vinegar, the honey may not be necessary.

I explain how to chiffonade basil (with step-by-step photos) in this post.

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Chicken Berry Pasta Salad ~ a sweet and savory summer dish drizzled with fresh Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette...and with its red, white, and blue color scheme, it's the perfect recipe for 4th of July picnics, potlucks, and BBQs! | FIveHeartHome.com

Tomato Cucumber Pasta Salad with Avocado
Tomato Cucumber Pasta Salad with Avocado, Kalamata Olives, Feta, and Fresh Dill | FiveHeartHome.com

Ultimate Taco Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing
Ultimate Taco Salad ~ an explosion of contrasting flavors and textures, from spicy taco meat and velvety black beans to acidic tomatoes and crisp fresh corn, all topped with crunchy tortilla chips and a creamy, cilantro-flecked Avocado Ranch Dressing! | FiveHeartHome.com

German Potato Salad
German Potato Salad ~ a perfect side dish for a summertime dinner from the grill, picnic, or holiday potluck | FiveHeartHome.com

Tortellini Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, & Fresh Corn
Tortellini Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, and Fresh Corn ~ a perfect summer side dish or light supper! | FiveHeartHome.com

Carrot Apple Slaw
Carrot Apple Slaw ~ with crunchy carrots, sweet and tart apples, dried cranberries, salty feta cheese, and a creamy dressing, this salad is a refreshingly sweet and savory side dish for summer! | FiveHeartHome.com

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Comments

  1. I am a tomato and mozzarella salad lover, but with the orzo added… DELISH! Pinned!

    Carrie
    Curly Crafty Mom

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Oh, I hope you love it, Carrie! Thanks so much for the pin…have a great week! 🙂

    • I just made this and it seems to have way too much olive oil/dressing. My salad looks brown and not very appealing. Hopefully it tastes better than it looks.

      • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

        Hi Lori! I’m not sure if you initially added all of the dressing to the pasta salad, but the recipe indicates that you only need to add about 2/3 of it at first (“about” meaning however much you deem appropriate). The remainder of the dressing is for after the salad comes out of the refrigerator, whether that’s at serving time or before enjoying any leftovers. The orzo will absorb the dressing as it chills, so I find that adding a bit more dressing just before serving is necessary. Any balsamic-based dressing is going to be brown-ish and will certainly darken orzo, but with the appropriate amount of dressing, this recipe should pretty much look like it does in the photos in this post. Hope that helps and hope your salad turned out okay!

  2. This looks like the perfect afternoon on the back porch while the kids are playing in the pool kind of snack to go with my sweet tea! I’ve never had orzo before but I love risotto, so perhaps this is very similar.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Oooo…can I come join you on the back porch, Joanna? Sounds perfect indeed! 😉 Orzo is different than risotto but can be fancied up in similar ways. It’s just tiny pieces of pasta as opposed to rice…but if you like caprese, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this recipe! 🙂

  3. My poor tomatoes are nowhere to be seen! We’ve had a particularly gloomy summer thus far. Oh, and this looks delish. I could live off pasta salads during the summer!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Well darn, Andrea…hopefully your tomatoes make an appearance yet! And when they do, I hope you get to try this salad… 🙂

  4. This looks delicious!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thank you, Megan! I’m pretty sure I could eat it every day, all summer long… 😉

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