Confetti Salad is my favorite pasta salad and is perfect for summer parties.  This recipe combines orzo pasta, colorful fresh veggies, and a vinaigrette to create a bowlful of scrumptious, edible confetti.   For a gluten-free version, just substitute rice for the orzo.  This Confetti Salad is a great main dish or side dish!

To get started, cook 1 cup of dry orzo pasta or rice.  This will make at least 3 cups of cooked pasta or rice.  If you are using pasta, drain it.  Let the pasta/rice cool.  While the pasta/rice cooks, it is time to get the veggie add-ins ready.  I like to have a variety of textures—some crunchy and some soft and creamy.  To achieve this, leave some of the veggies raw (radishes, green onions and bell peppers), slice the carrots and cook them in lightly-salted water until they are just tender, and blanch the whole snap peas in salted, boiling water for a minute.   Dice the yellow and red bell peppers and slice the green onions and radishes.  I like to use a mandolin to slice the radishes so they are all the same thickness.  If the radishes are large, slice the rounds in half (see photo below).

Slice the snap peas at an angle to add a pretty touch to the salad.  The goal is to add about 1/2 a cup of each of the veggies, except I only use about 1/4 cup of the sliced green onions.

Now it is time to assemble.  You will need 1/4 cup of your favorite Italian dressing or vinaigrette.  Don’t tell, but if you are in a hurry you can even use a store-bought dressing and it will still be great! 🙂  Add the dressing to the cooked pasta and gently stir to coat each grain of the orzo with the silky liquid.

Then add each of the veggies to the pasta, except for the green onions.

Now sprinkle on some salt and pepper.  You can even add a few red pepper flakes if you want to give the salad a little kick.

Then gently stir the mixture until all of the ingredients are evenly spread throughout.  At this point, I can’t resist tasting it, but it needs to be refrigerated to let the flavors come together.  (Don’t forget to put the green onions in the refrigerator too.)  This salad just gets better with time.  When you are ready to serve it, stir in the green onions and place this edible confetti on a serving platter or just serve it right out of the bowl.

This will be a festive addition to your next summer party.  As with many recipes, this one was inspired by my mom.  She used to make a version of this with rice instead of pasta, a creamy Italian dressing instead of the vinaigrette, and a slightly different combination of veggies, so feel free to experiment.  But, as always, enjoy!

Confetti Salad with Pasta or Rice
This is my favorite pasta salad and is perfect for summer parties. Substitute rice for a gluten-free version.
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 5-6 cups
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta or rice
  • ½ cup blanched and sliced, fresh snap peas
  • ½ cup sliced, cooked carrots
  • ½ cup thinly sliced radishes
  • ¼ cup diced red bell peppers
  • ¼ cup diced yellow bell peppers
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • ¼ cup Italian dressing/vinaigrette
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Cook the orzo pasta or rice according to package directions. Do not overcook it. Let the pasta/rice cool.
  2. Blanch the whole snap peas. Blanch them by bringing lightly-salted water to a boil. Add the whole snap peas to the boiling water and let them boil for 1 minute. Remove the snap peas and immediately put them in a bowl of ice water to instantly stop the cooking.
  3. When the snap peas are cool, drain them completely and slice them at an angle to create 3 or 4 pieces from each snap pea.
  4. Peel and slice one or two carrots, depending on size. Place the sliced carrots in enough salted water to just cover them. Simmer then until they are just tender. Remove them from the water and let them cool.
  5. Add the dressing/vinaigrette to the cooled pasta/rice. Gently stir to coat the pasta/rice with the dressing/vinaigrette.
  6. Add all of the vegetables, except for the green onions, to the pasta/rice.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you are using red pepper flakes, add them now.
  8. Gently stir the mixture to combine.
  9. Refrigerate the mixture and the green onions until chilled.
  10. When you are ready to serve it, gently stir in the green onions.


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