Easy Orzo Salad With Pesto and Artichoke Hearts

This easy orzo salad with pesto and artichoke hearts is a light dish that can be served as a main dish or spruced up and served as a main dish. Not only is it super tasty, but it’s easy to customize and quick to make – ready in about 20 minutes.

An artichoke and pesto salad made with orzo in a bowl.

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This easy orzo salad is a light dish full of pesto, tomato and artichoke flavors. It is topped off with baby spinach and parmesan cheese.

As you can see with this orzo pasta salad, salads don’t always have to be just lettuce based. A few similar dishes include this Greek pasta salad and this Roasted cauliflower salad.

This recipe is super easy to make, the most difficult step is simply cooking the orzo. Which, really isn’t hard at all.

Close up of an orzo salad with pesto.

What Makes This Orzo Salad with Pesto So Great?

  • Fast & Easy. This recipe only needs 9 ingredients (and two are water and salt). You can have it ready in about 20 minutes.
  • Customizable. It’s super easy to customize the flavor and taste to be just the way you like it.
  • Side or Main Dish. Serve as is for a side dish or add some beans to add in protein and make it a whole meal.
Pesto and artichoke orzo salad ingredients.


  • Orzo – a small rice-like pasta that is perfect for salads or soups.
  • Water – to boil the orzo in.
  • Salt – flavors the water the orzo is cooked in.
  • Olive Oil – keeps the orzo from clumping together.
  • Baby Spinach – you can use regular spinach as well just give it a quick chop to cut it into smaller pieces.
  • Marinated Artichoke Hearts – quartered. I like these because they are ready to use and already have great flavor as a stand-alone. You can also use unmarinated artichoke hearts or even steam your own (a process I tried and despised doing).
  • Sundried Tomatoes – thinly sliced. Cherry tomatoes cut in half are a good substitute.
  • Pesto – homemade or store-bought.
  • Parmesan Cheese – grated is best for this recipe.
An Artichocke and Pesto Salad made with orzo pasta in a bowl.


  • Add some protein – make this a heartier salad or whole meal by adding in cannelli beans or chick peas. Or, you can chop or shred some chicken and add it in.
  • Make it fresher – instead of using sundried tomatoes use the same amount of cherry tomatoes for a brighter, fresher look and taste.
  • Switch the pasta – you can use any type of small pasta in place of orzo such as penne, rotini, farfalle or ditalini.
  • Ramp up the veggies – you can add even more veggies to this dish, a few great options are broccoli or asparagus.

How to Make Orzo Pasta Salad with Pesto and Artichoke hearts

Follow these super easy step-by-step instructions to make this recipe for orzo salad.

  1. Add water, salt and olive oil to a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the orzo and cook for 8 – 10 minutes until it is al dente. Stir occasionally while cooking.
  3. Remove orzo from the heat, drain in a colander and rinse with cool water. Then place orzo in a large bowl.
  4. Toss in artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, spinach, pesto and parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.


  • Stir while boiling – to ensure that you don’t burn the orzo or have it sticking to the bottom of the pot, make sure to stir occasionally while cooking and use plenty of water.
  • Rinse well – make sure to rinse the orzo thoroughly before adding your other ingredients. Rinsing pasta helps to remove the starchy layer which can create an undesirable texture if left on.
  • Don’t overcook orzo – cook the orzo until it is al dente which means that it is still firm, but not too hard when you bite into it.
  • Cool before adding spinach – if you don’t let the orzo cool off when rinsing it it can cause the spinach to wilt a little if it’s still too hot.

Serving Suggestions

This dish makes a perfect side dish for many occasions, especially summertime BBQs, pool parties and more. Try serving it alongside:

An easy orzo salad in a bowl with artichokes and sundried tomatoes.


You can store this dish in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 – 5 days. It is not recommended to freeze this as spinach should be blanched before freezing or it will continue to age even when frozen.

Orzo Artichoke and pesto salad FAQ’s

Is orzo pasta or rice?

Orzo is pasta and not rice but it can be used in many of the same ways such as in salads, soups, or as a stand-alone side.

Can this orzo salad be made ahead?

Yes, you can make this salad a day or two ahead of serving, if you desire.

Can canned artichoke hearts be used?

While you can use canned artichoke hearts, they will be less flavorful than the marinated ones.

Is this salad served hot or cold?

I prefer to serve this salad cold, but if you want it warmed up some you can rinse the orzo with hot water and serve immediately. Just note that the spinach may cook a little because of the heat making it wilt.

A recipe for an orzo salad in a bowl on a table.

Easy Orzo Salad With Pesto and Artichoke Hearts

Alisa Infanti | The Delicious Spoon
This super easy orzo salad with pesto and artichoke hearts can be put together in about 20 minutes. Topped with parmesan cheese and sundried tomatoes, this pasta salad is light and flavorful.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Dinner, Salad, Side Dish
Servings 8
Calories 292 kcal


  • 2 cups orzo pasta
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups baby spinach
  • 8 marinated artichoke hearts quartered
  • 8 sundried tomatoes sliced thin
  • ¾ cup pesto
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese grated


  • Add 4 cups of water, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of olive oil to a large pot and bring the water to a boil.
  • Add 4 cups of orzo pasta to the boiling water and cook for 8 – 10 minutes or until orzo is al dente. Make sure to stir occasionally while cooking.
  • Remove the pot from the stove and drain the water from the orzo using a colander.
  • Rinse the orzo thoroughly under cold water and then transfer it to a large bowl.
  • Add 8 quartered artichoke hearts, 8 thinly sliced sundried tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups of baby spinach, 3/4 cups of pesto and 2 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese.
  • Mix everything together well and then serve.


Calories: 292kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 7gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 706mgPotassium: 185mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1453IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 80mgIron: 1mg


You can store this easy orzo salad with artichokes and pesto in an airtight container for 3 – 5 days.  It is best not to freeze it as unblanched spinach will continue to age even when frozen.
  • Add protein by tossing in chickpeas, cannelli beans or chicken.
  • Use fresh diced cherry tomatoes in place of sundried tomatoes.
  • Try different small pastas in place of orzo – penne or farfalle work well.
  • Mix in more veggies like broccoli or asparagus.
Please Note:

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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