After a rather soggy spring, we’ve finally had a stretch of decent weather here in New England. And while I’m afraid we still have a long ways to go before summer, this micro-burst of sunshine and warm temperatures has me dreaming of all my favorite Summer foods.
For me, summer is all about easy, low-fuss meal prep. It’s generally too hot to be doing anything incredibly laborious in my small, steamy kitchen. And I’d rather spend my time outside. So I generally end up noshing on tons of quick and easy salads, like this Caprese orzo pasta salad with blueberries. It’s fresh, light and can be made in just about 20 minutes!
If I had to pick a last meal, a classic Caprese salad might be it (with a fudgy chocolate brownie for dessert, of course!). I can’t ever seem to get enough of them. And I love re-working that trio of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil into other dishes. This pasta salad contains all the ingredients you’d expect in a classic Caprese salad, plus a couple handfuls of spicy arugula and some juicy blueberries. The sweet blueberries pair so well with the creamy mozzarella and acidic tomatoes. It’s a combination that I’ve been obsessed with for a while now. And I’m sure you’ll love it too!
I’m not much for mayonnaise. To be brutally honest, I really despise the stuff. And I try to avoid it whenever possible. So instead of the typical pasta salad dressing, I mixed up a zippy lemon and balsamic dressing for this recipe. It’s so much lighter than the usual creamy dressings that adorn pasta salad. And I think that makes this recipe even more perfect for a fresh summer side dish. This orzo pasta salad is totally ready for your next barbecue or potluck!
Once this pasta salad is fully assembled, it can be refrigerated and stored for several hours. But any longer than that, and the arugula will start getting wilty. If you need to prepare this recipe further in advance, I would suggest tossing the cooked orzo pasta with the dressing and storing it in your refrigerator by itself. Then you can mix in the other ingredients when you’re ready to serve.
For the salad:
- 2 cups dried orzo pasta
- 1 12-ounce container ciliegine mozzarella, drained
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 2 cups loosely packed arugula
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves torn
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the orzo pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain the orzo into a colander and let it cool for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Transfer the drained orzo to a large bowl. While it’s still slightly warm, add the dressing and toss until well coated. Then stir in the mozzarella, tomatoes, arugula, blueberries and basil.
- The pasta salad can be enjoyed immediately, or you can cover it and place it in your refrigerator to chill for several hours before serving.