Celebrate the warm weather in style with this Lemon Basil Pasta Salad. Made with a bright and herbaceous medley of orzo pasta, summer vegetables, and a simple oregano and white wine vinaigrette, it’s a must-have at any potluck or picnic.Jump to Recipe
Trader Joe’s lemon basil pasta salad copycat
Skip the expensive pre-made salads and make this simple, summery, and elegant Lemon Basil Pasta Salad instead. It’s easy to make using a variety of fresh vegetables, cooked orzo pasta, and a herbaceous and tangy white wine vinaigrette. Each serving is sure to bring a ton of refreshment to your picnic lunch or meal prep!
My homemade basil lemon pasta salad is inspired by the almost-identical, pre-made salad by Trader Joe’s. I wanted to elevate the flavors and bring freshness to every bite, which is where the addition of marinated artichokes, delicate orzo pasta, and vinaigrette dressing come into play. This recipe also makes enough for 4 people, which is way more than the storebought version!
Count on this salad to be a hit at spring potlucks and summer celebrations. It’s the perfect appetizer or side dish you can bring to Easter, Mother’s Day, Fourth of July, and more! Serve it with this Mustard and Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb and Herb Pesto Green Bean Salad for a bright, herbaceous, and vibrant feast.
What’s in this pasta salad?
- Orzo pasta – You can make this pasta salad recipe with any type of pasta but orzo is especially great at making every bite feel fancy. Orzo is a short-cut pasta that looks just like rice but tastes like pasta. It’s my go-to in this one-pot Mediterranean chicken and my creamy lemon orzo pasta.
- Vegetables – Marinated artichokes, peas, basil, and zucchini give this fresh spring salad its refreshing and vibrant flavors.
- Lemon – Both the zest and juice will liven up each bite.
- White wine vinaigrette – A simple mix of white wine vinegar, fresh oregano, and olive oil will dress the pasta salad. If you don’t have white wine vinegar, use champagne vinegar or rice vinegar instead. This tarragon mustard vinaigrette or arugula basil pesto would also dress up the salad nicely.
How to make lemon basil pasta salad
- Cook the pasta: Cook the orzo or pasta of choice according to the package instructions. Transfer the cooked pasta to a large bowl and keep the pasta water in the pot.
- Prepare the vegetables: Cook the fresh or frozen peas in the pasta water until tender. Cut the zucchini into small matchsticks, drain the artichoke hearts, and chop the basil. Add everything to the bowl with the pasta, then stir in the lemon zest and juice.
- Make the vinaigrette: Stir the olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, and oregano in a small bowl or jar.
- Dress the salad and serve: Pour the vinaigrette over the assembled pasta salad and toss to coat. Serve the salad in bowls with a side of lemon wedges and enjoy!
Pasta salad add-ins
Spruce up the flavors, textures, and nutrients by adding all kinds of goodies to this pasta salad recipe. Use these ideas for inspiration:
- Veggies and herbs: Add roasted or raw bell peppers, spinach or arugula, fresh parsley, sliced cherry tomatoes, olives, or capers.
- Nuts: Sprinkle pine nuts or sliced almonds over the salad.
- Cheese: Add shredded cheese, freshly grated parmesan, crumbled feta, or shredded asiago cheese.
- Meat: Pre-cooked shredded chicken, baked chicken breast, shrimp, salmon, or cured Italian meats would all be delicious.
Frequently asked questions
The best way to prepare pasta salad ahead of time is to cook the pasta and peas, and make the dressing before assembling everything together. All of your prepared ingredients can be stored in separate airtight containers in the fridge 1 day ahead of time, then assembled right before serving.
Yes, you can replace the orzo pasta with any short-cut pasta you like. Bow tie, farfalle, and penne are all great options!
The bright and Italian flavors in this recipe make it a perfect side dish for more summery recipes, like chicken piccata, mozzarella stuffed meatballs, and peach burrata salad. You can even serve it as an appetizer or a light dinner with an Aperol spritz!
The leftover pasta salad will last for 3 or 4 days when kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Drizzle some extra dressing over top if the pasta has absorbed most of the liquid.
More fresh recipes for spring and summer
- Citrus Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Salad
- Oven Baked Salmon with Gremolata Sauce
- Greek Chicken Kabobs
- Lemon Risotto with Peas and Mascarpone
If you give this Lemon Basil Pasta Salad a try, let me know in the comments below. I love seeing your pictures too, so please tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog and use #lenaskitchenblog so I can share them to my page!
Lemon Basil Pasta Salad
- Cook the orzo pasta or any other pasta according to the package. I cooked mine for 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pasta into a large bowl. Rinse the pasta in cold water to stop the cooking process. Keep the pasta water.
- Cook the peas in the pasta water for 2-3 minutes, until slightly tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
- While pasta is cooking, cut the zucchini into thin strips and then into small matchsticks. Drain the artichoke hearts. Roughly chop the basil. Add these ingredients to the pasta bowl.
- Zest one lemon and squeeze the juice of half lemon, you might want more depending how lemony you want your salad to be.
- Mix olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and oregano in a small bowl. Add dressing to the pasta and gently toss together.
- Serve with a side of lemon wedges.
Storing: Store in an airtght container. Should keep in the fridge for up to a week.