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Vegan Orzo Pasta with Basil

This colorful orzo pasta salad is nutritious, filling, and can be made in minutes. It is always a huge hit at my Food for Life classes!

Orzo Pasta with Basil

We love this orzo pasta salad because it’s…

  • Light
  • Filling
  • Packed with nutrients
  • Simple to make
  • Super flavorful
  • Healthy
  • Delicious

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Orzo is a lovely little pasta that looks a lot like slivered almonds to me. When choosing pasta, I always go with the whole grain options.

Is pasta bad for you?

Some people imagine that pasta–along with bread, potatoes, and rice–is bad for you, but the opposite is actually true.

Carbohydrate-rich foods are helpful for permanent weight control, because they contain less than half the calories of fat, which means that replacing fatty foods with complex carbohydrates automatically cuts calories.

“The thinnest people in the world consume 80% of their calories from complex carbohydrates.”Dr. Neal Barnard, President of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

It’s important to remember to eat healthful carbohydrates, such as whole grains, pasta, brown rice, and sweet potatoes.

Processed carbohydrates, such as white bread and white rice, are not as healthful a choice because they have lost much of their fiber and other nutrients and tend to have a higher glycemic index.”PCRM

Other whole-grain pasta could also be used in this recipe, as the vegetables and dressing lend themselves well to variety.

Whole grain pasta varieties.
This recipe would go well with any whole grain pasta desired.

Nutritional benefits of whole-grain pasta

Whole grain or whole wheat pasta, such as spaghetti, is made from flour that contains the entire grain kernel, the germ, endosperm and bran.

Whole grain pasta is rich in many nutrients essential for human health and is high in dietary fiber, which promotes regularity and may help lower cholesterol and aid in cancer prevention. 

The Harvard School of Public Health reports that whole grains, such as whole grain pasta, contain compounds called phytoestrogens or plant estrogens.

These substances may help to reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancers — particularly in conjunction with the minerals found in whole grains — such as copper, selenium, magnesium and manganese. — LiveStrong

A full list of ingredients, measurements, instructions, and a print button can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Easy oil-free dressing for pasta and salads

The simple oil-free 3-2-1 dressing used with this dish requires only three ingredients–balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup–to be whisked together in a small bowl.

balsamic vinegar, dijion mustard, and maple syrup in white bowls with whisk

Added to the orzo and veggies, this dish comes together with a burst of tangy flavor!

Recipe from Physicians Committee, Food for Life: Kickstart Your Health.

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Other plant-based pasta dishes:

Orzo pasta

Vegan Orzo Pasta

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This colorful orzo veggie pasta salad is nutritious, filling, and can be made in about 20 minutes! Recipe from Physicians Committee, Food for Life: KickStart Your Health.


Orzo Pasta

  • 8 oz orzo pasta, I use whole wheat
  • 1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup green peas, frozen and thawed by running warm water over
  • 1 Tbsp basil, ground, fresh can also be used
  • 1 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted, optional
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt



Orzo Pasta

  1. Cook orzo pasta according to package directions.
  2. Thaw frozen peas by placing in colander and running warm water over them.
  3. Chop tomatoes.
  4. Place all pasta ingredients in large bowl--orzo, green peas, tomatoes, pine nuts (if using), basil, salt, and pepper. Add balsamic dressing (recipe below).

Balsamic Dressing

  1. Whisk together balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard in a small bowl.
  2. Pour over orzo and veggies. Mix well and serve warm or cold.


Detailed instructions, in-process photos, and my personal helpful tips can be found in the article above.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 3.1gCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 2.6gProtein: 9.2g

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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Vegan Orzo Pasta with Basil
A light and delicious meal anytime.

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Thursday 24th of March 2016

It's one of the favs in my FFL classes too!


Saturday 19th of March 2016

What a wonderful, easy, satisfying recipe! Making this today!