Layered Italian salad



30 min


10 to 12 servings

* PLUS Cooking time: 8 minutes, Refrigeration Time: 180 minutes


  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 2/3 cup bottled or homemade herbed vinaigrette , see tip below
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 200-g container bocconcini , drained, about 9 balls
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 yellow tomatoes
  • 2 large red tomatoes
  • 1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 2 roasted red peppers , bottled or home-roasted
  • 1/2 English cucumber


  • Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in orzo. Boil, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, then rinse with cold water until cool. Place in a large bowl. Pour in 1/4 cup (50 mL) vinaigrette. Sprinkle in onions and basil. Stir until mixed.
  • While orzo is cooking, slice each ball of cheese into thirds. Smash olives with flat edge of a large knife. Discard pits and slice olives in half. Place cheese and olives in a small bowl, then sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Cut yellow tomatoes into eighths. Coarsely chop large red tomatoes. Slice grape or cherry tomatoes in half. Pat peppers dry with paper towel, then slice into 1/4-inch- (1-cm-) thick strips. Slice cucumber lengthwise in half. Using a small spoon, scrape out and discard seeds. Thinly slice.
  • Place orzo in a large glass bowl that will hold at least 14 cups (3.5 L). Cover with red tomatoes. Scatter with cheese and olives, then cover with yellow tomatoes. Top with pepper strips, then cucumber. Finish with grape tomatoes. Pour remaining vinaigrette, about 1/3 cup (75 mL), overtop but do not toss. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or as long as overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving. Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil or mint leaves.

Nutrition (per serving)

  • Calories
  • 219,
  • Protein
  • 7 g,
  • Carbohydrates
  • 19.1 g,
  • Fat
  • 13.6 g,
  • Fibre
  • 2.7 g,
  • Sodium
  • 399 mg.

Layered salads make irresistible eye-catching dishes on the dinner or buffet table–and they’re a breeze to make! Simply layer colourful fresh veggies with cherry tomatoes, olives, cheese and pasta, then drizzle with a store-bought vinaigrette or your own homemade vinaigrette.

Herbed vinaigrette

Whisk 1/3 cup (75 mL) olive oil with 5 minced garlic cloves, 1-1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) dried basil , 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) crumbled dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon (5 mL) each salt and granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground black pepper. Microwave, uncovered, on medium 1 minute or on stove over medium heat just until warm. Whisk in 1/3 cup (75 mL) balsamic or red wine vinegar. Taste and add more seasoning, if needed. Cool to room temperature. Makes about 2/3 cup (150 mL).