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Warm Pasta Salad With Orzo

Make this salad when cherry tomatoes are in season and at their sweetest, then serve it warm for a summer lunch (sunshine optional). It’s best to use ripe Hass avocados, as they have such a creamy texture and collapse into the warm pasta. You can always pack this salad to take on a picnic or eat any leftovers for an office lunch. I like to use orzo for this salad but any short pasta shape will work.


  • 250g/9oz dried orzo
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced in half-moon shapes
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300g/10½oz cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 avocados, flesh cubed
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ lemon
  • 60g/2¼oz black Kalamata olives, stoned and halved
  • bunch of parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • bunch mint, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • bunch basil, leaves picked and leaves torn
  • 30g/1oz Parmesan, finely grated
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

Gently warm the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and garlic and scatter over a large pinch of salt. Stir everything together, cover with a lid and cook on a medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Take the lid off, stir again, and cook uncovered for a further 5 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium, add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the tomatoes soften and start to burst a little, take the pan off the heat and set to one side to cool slightly.

Place the avocado in a large bowl and toss it in the zest and lemon juice. Add the tomato mixture and the olives and stir everything together, then set aside while you cook the pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and season it well with table salt. Cook the orzo for 9–10 minutes until al dente (check the instructions on the packet). Drain the pasta and add it to the avocodos and tomatoes, along with all the chopped herbs and the Parmesan. Mix well and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Transfer the salad to a large bowl, preferably set outside for a summer lunch, and scatter over a handful of toasted pine nuts just before serving.

Vegan option:
Replace the Parmesan with 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast or with 3 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts.