This delicious mediterranean orzo pesto salad is made with artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, grilled cherry tomatoes and shrimp. A flavorful, fresh basil pesto dressing ties all the components together and the recipe takes no more than 30 minutes to make from start to finish.
A few ingredient notes:
- olive oil – you’ll need part of it for the pesto dressing and part of it to brush on the shrimp.
- cherry tomatoes – rather than adding the tomatoes raw, they are grilled to intensify their flavor. Along with the kalamata olives, the grilled tomatoes add enough acidity for this salad so that there is no need for any lemon juice or vinegar in the dressing.
- cheese – you can use Pecorino or Parmesan
- olives – you have to use kalamata olives here because their acidity is needed
- ground sumac – if you don’t have sumac on hand, you can leave it out. I like to use it because of its extra umami flavor and also because of its health benefits.
How to make it:
Cook the orzo pasta:
Step 1. Cook ½ cup orzo pasta in boiling water according to package instructions, then drain and rinse briefly under cold water. Set aside.
Make the dressing:
Step 2. Finely chop 1 cup packed basil leaves, then add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons grated cheese, 1 tablespoon roughly chopped pine nuts, 1 minced garlic clove and ⅛ teaspoon salt.
Step 3. Mix the dressing ingredients together.
Step 4. Stir the pasta into the dressing.
Add the vegetables:
Step 5. Roughly chop 2 artichoke hearts and 5 kalamata olives and stir them in.
Grill tomatoes and shrimp:
Step 6. Brush the remaining tablespoon of olive oil onto 10 raw shrimp, then sprinkle 1 teaspoon sumac powder over them. Skewer the shrimp and 10 cherry tomatoes and grill them on a grill or a grill pan until cooked through (4 – 5 minutes on each side). Let them cool a bit, cut the shrimp into bite-sized pieces, then stir them into the salad.
How to serve it:
Serve the salad warm or at room temperature.
How to store leftovers:
You can cover the salad and keep it in the refrigerator for a few hours. Be sure to let it come up to room temperature before serving.
More delicious salads:
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Orzo Pesto Salad with Grilled Shrimp
- ½ cup orzo pasta, uncooked
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 10 cherry tomatoes
- 10 shrimp, raw
- 1 teaspoon ground sumac*
- 5 kalamata olives
- 2 artichoke hearts
- Cook the orzo pasta according to package instructions. Rinse under cold water, then set aside.
- Finely chop the basil leaves, then mix them with 3 tablespoons oil, the cheese, the pine nuts, the garlic and the salt.
- Mix the orzo pasta into the basil pesto. Set aside.
- Roughly chop the olives and the artichoke hearts and mix into the salad.
- Brush the shrimp with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle the sumac on them.
- Thread the shrimp and the cherry tomatoes onto skewers, then grill them on a grill or on a grill pan until cooked through (4 to 5 minutes on each side). Let cool a bit.
- Cut the shrimp into bite-sized pieces and mix them along with the tomatoes into the salad. Serve the salad warm or at room temperature.