Fresh Basil and Tomato Orzo Salad with Parmesan

Fresh Basil and Tomato Orzo Salad with Parmesan

When Scarlett was a preschooler we did lots of picnics. It was often a great way to kill time with friends–long, lazy playdates that were capped off by a great picnic lunch, dessert and then home for a nap. Now our picnics are fewer and farther between but they’re still pretty much the same. I usually spend my pre-picnic prep time swearing (quietly in my head, of course) at my mismatched plastic containers as Scarlett’s asks me repeatedly for various things like, “Where’s my jump rope? Where’s my jump rope? Mommy, have you seen my jump rope? Can you help me find my jump rope? I need my jump rope, Mommy. Mommy, I really, really need my jump rope. Mommy!” But once we’ve got the blanket spread out and our mouth’s full of food, we’re happy as clams.













I also love that picnics are now a way for us to have fun with the food. I’m not too concerned with making sure I have Scarlett’s favourite apple butter sandwich any more since she’s far more adventurous when it comes to what she eats. However, I’m not totally delusional either. I’m not packing up escargot on bruschetta. (Does anyone do that?) I still stick to the things that I know go over well like pasta. In fact, I whipped this orzo dish up for an afternoon BBQ at a friend’s house. The adults loved the abundance of fresh basil and kids didn’t turn their noses up at it because, well, it’s, you know, pasta in a cute shape.

Fresh Basil and Tomato Orzo Salad with Parmesan


  • 2 cups cooked orzo
  • 25 fresh basil leaves, various sizes
  • 1 shallot, cut into quarters
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup shaved parmesan cheese
  • 5 mint leaves chopped


Cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Set aside.

Place basil leaves, shallot, garlic, oil, lemon zest and juice, honey and salt in a blender (you can also use an immersion blender) with water and give it a whiz until blended.

Mix dressing into pasta. Stir in cherry tomatoes and parmesan. Sprinkle fresh chopped mint.

I've also tried this recipe using feta cheese but it makes it a bit more salty. I also love subbing chopped sun dried tomatoes since they are my favorite way to eat tomatoes.

However you craft this easy pasta, it always packs up nice and easy


This post was originally posted May 24, 2013.

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  1. MadSCAR
    May 25, 05:49 Reply

    This salad looks amazing! I’ll try out this recipe soon

  2. polishperfect
    March 19, 17:23 Reply

    Me and my two little girls are starting to go to the park for more picnics now. This looks like a great on the go recipe! I’m going to try this recipe next week! Thanks!

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