Orzo Pesto Salad

Orzo Pesto Salad – An easy, super delicious vegetarian rice pilaf recipe that will take your dinner to the next level! Serve it with grilled chicken thighs or steak for the most perfect meal ever.

Overhead shot of Orzo Pesto Salad

This recipe earned the status of “super knockout” !!!

My fiance calls really really really good recipes “knockouts.” That label is not given out very easily….. and this side dish received (my first ever!!!!) “super knockout” from him (!!!!!)

Aka you need to make it.

Inspiration for this recipe came from…

My favorite side dish at the winery I am getting married at inspired this recipe.

You mix rice and orzo with arugula pesto, herbs, spices, raisins, and slivered almonds. And THEN you top it with burrata just before serving!!!

You can make this side dish recipe super easy by using a package of frozen rice

I used a package of frozen rice and Delallo’s gluten-free orzo.

Any kind of rice/orzo works. You could also do all orzo or all rice if you prefer. But I will say – I really like the combo of the two kinds of grains because it gives the dish more texture.

Arugula Pesto Rice and orzo Pilaf with Burrata

How to prep it ahead of time

You can make the arugula pesto ahead of time for faster assembly when it’s time to serve. But it’s best when served warmer than room temperature. So I suggest mixing it all together right before you’re ready to eat.

What to serve the orzo pesto salad with…

At the winery, they serve it as an appetizer but I love it as a side dish to something like this steak. It would also be great with some kind of grilled chicken thigh (like this one that looks amazing). Or you could eat it on its own as your main dish.

Watch the recipe video here:

arugula pesto rice pilaf side dish

Orzo Pesto Salad

The most flavorful side dish you will ever eat. Serve it with grilled chicken thighs or steak for the most perfect meal!
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Servings: 6


  • mini food processor or blender


For the arugula pesto:

  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup unsalted cashews
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 1 lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

For the orzo:

  • 8 oz uncooked orzo (You can use Dellalo’s Gluten Free Orzo for a gluten free option)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (I use a package of frozen rice)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 lemons, zested + juiced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 8 oz container burrata cheese


For the arugula pesto (be careful to not over-blend!):

  • In a mini food processor, add all ingredients except the olive oil. Pulse until the mixture is chopped up but not completely smooth.
  • Stream in the olive oil and pulse until just combined. It will turn into a nut butter consistency if you blend too long!

For the orzo:

  • Cook the orzo or rice according to package instructions.
  • Put the raisins in a bowl, cover with about 1/2 cup boiling water, leave to soak for five minutes, then drain.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the pesto, orzo, rice, soaked raisins, almonds, parsley, mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and chili powder. Stir until the arugula pesto coats everything. Taste and adjust salt if needed.
  • Transfer the orzo/rice to a serving dish and break the burrata over top.


Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 602kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 28g