Healthy and delicious Orzo Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables is a mix of orzo pasta, loads of veggies (think roasted bell pepper, eggplant, onion, mixed with fresh tomatoes), and smoked mozzarella cheese. Everything is tossed in a simple balsamic vinaigrette to create an easy side dish or vegetarian meal that’s beautiful, nutritious, and perfect for parties, potlucks, and cookouts!
Pasta salad is a must-make any time of the year! This Orzo Pasta Salad is one of our new favorites because it’s healthy, easy to make, and packed with vegetables. I’ll often make this orzo salad when I’m doing my meal prep so we can enjoy it as a light lunch throughout the week (my Tuna Pasta Salad is another great make-ahead lunch as well!).
As a matter of fact, I find that while pasta salads are great for parties, potlucks, and barbeques (hello, healthy macaroni salad!) a lot of pasta salad recipes work well as a make-ahead lunch (or dinner) since they are SO doable, last for days when stored in the fridge, and everyone loves them.
Why you should make this recipe
- So tasty: This salad recipe is filled with fresh flavors and wonderful textures, from tender roasted vegetables and orzo to smoky mozzarella cheese and freshly chopped basil. Every time I make this recipe someone asks me for the recipe.
- It’s healthy: Because this dish is packed with vegetables, it’s also loaded with nutrients. You can also bump up the protein and pair it with some grilled chicken or salmon. To make this vegan, simply omit the mozzarella.
- Easy to make: I just love healthy, doable recipes and this salad is just that! Simply roast the veggies, cook the pasta, make the dressing, and mix it all together. Easy, peasy lemon squeezy!
This pasta salad recipe uses simple ingredients filled with nutrition. It’s also a recipe that’s very flexible, so feel free to swap in your favorite veggies and herbs. Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Vegetables: Eggplant, colorful bell peppers, and red onion are roasted before mixing in the salad, and the fresh scallions and juicy cherry tomatoes are added at the end to finish the dish.
- Orzo pasta: The base of the salad is a short pasta called orzo that can be found in the pasta aisle of the grocery store. I try to look for whole wheat orzo when possible, but it can be hard to find.
- For the dressing: To dress this orzo salad, we’re whisking together lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil simply seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Cheese: Cubes of smoked mozzarella adds a unique, smoky flavor, but feel free to use any variety of cheese that you love or have on hand
- Herbs: To really elevate this salad and give it some fresh flavor, I always finish with freshly chopped basil. Other herbs like parsley or cilantro would work as well!
How to make this recipe
This orzo pasta salad with roasted vegetables is really easy to toss together! The most time-consuming part is cutting up the veggies. Save time by multi-tasking and making the pasta and dressing while the veggies are roasting. Here’s how to put everything together…
- Roast the veggies: Toss eggplant, peppers, and onion in a large bowl with 2 tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread out on two rimmed baking sheets and pop into a 425-degree oven for 30-40 minutes stirring once halfway through.
- Cook the pasta: While the veggies are roasting, cook the orzo according to the package directions.
- Make the dressing: In the meantime combine lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and 2 tbsp of olive oil in a small bowl. Whisk everything together and season with salt and pepper.
- Mix the veggies, pasta, and dressing: Once the veggies and orzo have cooked toss them together in a large bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over the top. Combine well.
- Serve: Finish the salad with scallions, mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. Adjust seasonings and serve at room temperature. Enjoy!
- Cooking the pasta: To keep the orzo pasta from becoming mushy, be sure not to overcook it. Cook to al dente and once cooked, drain and rinse it to stop it from cooking further.
- Make ahead: To save time prepping dinner, you can have the veggies roasted ahead of time and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. You could also have the dressing made and the orzo cooked, so all that’s left to do is assemble.
- Gluten-free: If you need a gluten-free option, there are some brands that make gluten-free orzo pasta. However, that may be difficult to find. You can use a substitute with any gluten-free short-cut pasta.
Frequently asked questions
We love this salad as-is, but you can easily change up the recipe with other ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes or use up the ingredients you have available. Here are some options:
- Protein: Either add in cooked chicken, shrimp, or fish. Or simply serve the salad on the side with your favorite protein. Tofu would be a good vegetarian option.
- Beans: To keep the recipe vegetarian, but still add a boost of protein, try stirring in chickpeas or kidney beans.
- Veggies: Try adding more vegetables, such as marinated artichoke hearts, zucchini, asparagus or corn.
- Cheese: Feta cheese or goat cheese would be great if you can’t find smoked mozzarella.
- Herbs: Swap out the basil for fresh parsley, dill, or another favorite herb.
Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to about 3 days. Cover the bowl of salad tightly with foil or plastic wrap, or you can transfer the salad to an airtight container. Before serving again, give it a good stir, taste, and season again as needed.
Orzo Pasta Salad
- 1 medium eggplant cut into a 1-inch dice
- 1 large yellow pepper chopped
- 1 large orange pepper chopped
- 1 red onion chopped
- 1/4 extra virgin olive oil divided
- Salt and pepper
- ½ lb orzo pasta whole wheat if you can find it
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 5 scallions chopped
- 4 oz smoked mozzarella cut into small cubes
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes quartered
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
- Toss eggplant, peppers, and onion in a large bowl with 2 tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread out on two rimmed baking sheets and pop into a 425 degree oven for 30-40 minutes stirring once half way through.
- While the veggies are roasting, cook the orzo according to the package directions.
- In the meantime combine lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and 2 tbsp of olive oil in a small bowl. Whisk everything together and season with salt and pepper.
- Once the veggies and orzo have cooked toss them together in a large bowl and pour vinegar mixture over the top. Combine well.
- Finish the salad with scallions, mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. Adjust seasonings and serve at room temperature. Enjoy!