It’s beginning to feel a lot like Summer, and you know what that means, right? It’s PASTA SALAD SEASON! And this Pesto Orzo Pasta Salad with Zucchini, Goat Cheese, and Tomatoes is sure to be on heavy rotation all Summer long! This mayo-free pasta salad is vegetarian friendly and perfect for picnics, potlucks, and barbecues!
Easy Pesto Pasta Salad
Every Summer, I challenge myself to create at least one new pasta salad recipe, and this year, it’s this DELICIOUS (AND EASY) Orzo Pasta Salad with Pesto! It’s loaded with creamy goat cheese, juicy tomatoes, tender zucchini, and a kick of red onion. This (vegetarian-friendly & mayo free) pasta salad is a total crowd-pleaser. And it’s ready in about 20 minutes! Making it the perfect side-dish for potlucks, parties, barbecues, and backyard celebrations!
I’ll be the first to admit I have a love/hate relationship with Summer. Like, I LOVE a lot of things about the season! Pool days, fudge pops on the patio, making homemade pesto sauce with basil from our garden, and an ice cold glass of white wine are just a few of my favorite things! But the heat? I absolutely loathe the heat. Always have… and pretty sure I always will.
It was one of the only big differences between me and my mom! She would NEVER put the air on. No matter how hot it was! And she would happily sit in the sun – on a hundred degree day – chatting the afternoon away. She loved for it! But me? Totally different story!
Seriously… nothing makes me less inspired to cook and bake than sweltering temperatures. Especially since we don’t have central air in our current apartment!
But thankfully, that’s where quick and easy pasta salads swoop in and see the day! It’s quick to make and in our household of two, it makes enough for lunch ALL WEEK LONG!
How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad:
Making this pasta salad is INSANELY easy! All you do is boil your orzo, toss it with the pesto, and sprinkle in your zucchini, tomatoes, goat cheese, and red onions. You can grill the zucchini or lightly roast it. But in the HOT Summer months, we always choose to grill because who the heck wants to turn their oven on?
This zucchini and goat cheese pasta salad will be on heavy rotation in our house ALL Summer long! I think next time I’ll add a little grilled chicken for some extra protein. Or maybe some shrimp? There’s so many ways to adapt this recipe! Which is why I love it so much! It’s impossible to get bored with!
More Easy Pasta Salad Recipes:
- Avocado BLT Pasta Salad
- Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
- 20-Minute Rainbow Veggie Pasta Salad
- Vegan Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad
- Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Pasta Salad
Pesto Orzo Pasta Salad with Zucchini, Goat Cheese, and Tomatoes
- 3 medium zucchini
- 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 pound orzo pasta
- 1 cup pesto
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 pints (4 cups) cherry tomatoes
- 8 ounces goat cheese
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees (F). Slice zucchinis in half lengthwise, then chop into 1/2" zucchini slices.
- In a large bowl, combine the zucchini with the olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, tossing well to coat.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or just until they begin to soften. Don't over bake or your zucchini with the mushy! Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring it to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
- When the pasta has finished cooking, drain it at once and quickly rinse it under cold water until cool, about 1 minute.
- Place cooled pasta in a large mixing bowl and add the pesto and vinegar, and toss well to coat.
- Add half of the roasted zucchini, tomatoes, goat cheese, onions, and basil, and toss well to combine.
- Top with remaining mix-ins. Then serve at once, or chill until needed.