Tap here to get 5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners

California Roll Pasta Salad

5 from 2 votes
|

posted: 06/20/24

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
|
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

If you love California Rolls but don’t have the first idea how to roll sushi, make this amazing California Roll Pasta Salad. This is so perfect for summer get-togethers.

bowl of California Roll Pasta Salad with two spoons for serving

My family absolutely loves California Rolls. It is always shocking to me how many my kids can eat, especially my younger ones.

If you love California Rolls too, you have to try this delicious pasta salad. It has all of the great flavors of the sushi roll, but with far less work.

Pasta Salad With Orzo

Whenever I post a recipe that calls for orzo, I get several questions asking me what orzo is. Orzo is a type of small pasta shaped like a large grain of rice.

Despite its rice-like shape and name (orzo means “barley” in Italian), orzo is indeed pasta. It originates from Italy and is a very versatile ingredient. It can be used in soups, salads, side dishes, and even as a base for a fake risotto due to its ability to absorb flavor and create a creamy texture. You can find it in your grocery store next to the other pasta.

overhead of bowl of California Roll Pasta Salad ingredients

How to Make California Roll Pasta Salad

Here is a brief overview of how this orzo pasta salad recipe comes together. For the full recipe including all measurements, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • Cook the orzo. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the orzo with a few pinches of kosher salt. Cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool it and keep it from sticking together.
  • Prepare the vegetables. While the orzo is cooking, cut the cucumber into small long bite-sized pieces and the avocado into small bite-sized pieces.
  • Make the salad. Combine the cooked orzo, cucumber, avocado, and crab together in a large bowl.
  • Add the dressing. Stir in the olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, and soy sauce. Finally, stir in the sesame seeds.

Cooking Orzo For Pasta Salad

A few simple tips can ensure that your orzo is cooked perfectly for pasta salad.

  • Use plenty of water. Use a large pot of water to cook your orzo. This allows plenty of space for the pasta to move freely and prevents clumping, ensuring even cooking.
  • Salt the water. I always use salt to season the pasta while it’s cooking. Normally when we cook a pound of pasta we want to use 1 to 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Because we are only cooking a cup here, we want to add a few pinches.
  • Make sure the water is really boiling. You want to see large, rolling bubbles before adding your dry orzo.
  • Set a timer. Follow the directions on the package and set a timer as soon as the pasta is added to the boiling water. Orzo continues to cook a bit even after draining, so slightly undercooked is better than overcooked.
  • Rise the pasta. Typically rinsing pasta after it cooks is a no-no. However, because the orzo is going in a cold pasta salad, I like to rinse it with cold water after draining the orzo to cool it down and stop it from cooking.

Making Ahead and Storing Leftovers

This salad is almost better the next day. The dressing is so light, and the pasta so small, that it doesn’t over-absorb. I don’t recommend making it more than one day before you plan to serve it.

Keep this pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. If it is left out for more than two hours, toss it.

FAQ

Is this recipe gluten free?

No, orzo is a pasta made with flour so is not gluten free. That being said, there are great gluten free orzo brands on the market.

Can I omit the soy sauce?

Yes! I love the little flavor that the soy sauce adds to this, but you can certainly omit it.

overhead of bowl of California Roll Pasta Salad with spoons for serving

Other Pasta Salad Recipes

If you make this California roll pasta salad or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment letting me know how you enjoyed it.

bowl of California Roll Pasta Salad with two spoons for serving
5 from 2 votes

California Roll Pasta Salad

Serves: 6 servings
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
If you love California Rolls but don't have the first idea how to roll sushi, make this amazing California Roll Pasta Salad. This is so perfect for summer get-togethers.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry orzo cooked to package directions and rinsed with cold water (200 grams)
  • 1 cup imitation crab pulled apart (115 grams)
  • 1 cup cucumber cut into small long bite sized pieces, about 1/2 an English cucumber (140 grams)
  • 1 avocado cut into small bite sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

Instructions

  • In a medium sized bowl, combine the cooked orzo, crab, cucumber, and avocado. Toss to combine.
    1 cup dry orzo, 1 cup imitation crab, 1 cup cucumber, 1 avocado
  • Stir in the olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, and soy sauce. Finally, stir in the sesame seeds.
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
Serving: 1cup Calories: 251kcal (13%) Carbohydrates: 28g (9%) Protein: 6g (12%) Fat: 13g (20%) Saturated Fat: 2g (13%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g Monounsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 3mg (1%) Sodium: 341mg (15%) Potassium: 261mg (7%) Fiber: 4g (17%) Sugar: 2g (2%) Vitamin A: 65IU (1%) Vitamin C: 4mg (5%) Calcium: 26mg (3%) Iron: 1mg (6%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Japanese
bowl of California Roll Pasta Salad with two spoons for serving

did you make this

California Roll Pasta Salad

I’d love to see what you made! Tag me @lisasimplejoy and hashtag it #simplejoyrecipes!

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions

    LEAVE A COMMENT

    Have a question? Use the form below to submit your question or comment. I love hearing from you & seeing what you made!

    Rate This Recipe:




  1. rachelle says

    This is so creative and sounds great! I will definitely make it.

  2. Megan @ Pip and Ebby says

    I’m so much like you when it comes to my boys. I never push anything that signifies getting bigger (unless it’s unhealthy, of course). I kept my boys in a crib till the day they turned three. I never correct their improper usage of words. I want to enjoy all of it and bottle it up! I get it! :)

    This salad looks delicious! I love California Rolls and never thought to turn it into a salad. Yum! Thanks for the great recipe.`

    • Lisa Longley says

      Right?? My 4 year old still says Pampakes. I can’t get enough of it!

  3. Meliss says

    I have a question about how long this keeps. The post says to make a big batch and take for lunch all week, but the directions say serve immediately or refrigerate up to 24 hours. I don’t see why it wouldn’t keep a little longer, but was just curious as to the wording. (Actually my grandma caught it and now I want to know LOL)

    • Lisa Longley says

      Meliss! You are totally right! Tell your grandma that I hope when I’m a grandma I’m as sharp as she is. So here’s the deal: I totally forgot I wrote that in the post when I posted it again on FB. I personally *would* eat it all week. But I feel like I have to be really careful in what I advise people to do in my posts. You know? I say use your best judgement.

  4. Tara says

    How does the avocado not turn brown? Letting it sit for a bbq worries me that it will not look so nice.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Tara! When I made it, there was a little browning, but it was minimal because of the dressing. You could always make it ahead of time and then cut up the avocado and throw it on at the last minute!

  5. Dena says

    5 stars
    I don’t know how I stumbled across your page, but I’m so glad I did!! This recipe is H.E.A.V.E.N.! I made it today for a 4th of July party with my family. I tasted it and immediately threw my spoon clear across the room into the sink! Otherwise, I would have eaten the whole bowl and shown up empty handed. Instead of adding a little salt to it for flavor, I put out Soy Sauce for them to add to their own. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! Happy 4th of July!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you so much for coming back to tell me this Dena!

  6. Lisa says

    I am excited to make this. Would it alter the taste too much if I leave out the sesame seeds? Thank you!

    • Lisa Longley says

      No! It will still be delicious. The sesame oil brings a lot of that flavor.

SUPER-SIMPLEFAMILY FAVORITES
Broccoli Pasta"Omg! I didn’t think anything so simple could be so good!"
overhead of skillet of Cajun Shrimp Pasta ingredients on a cooling rack with toasted bread sitting beside
Cajun Shrimp Pasta"My family absolutely loved this recipe. Even my finicky eaters."
overhead photo of a gray skillet filled with beef and broccoli recipe, garnished with sliced green onions
Beef and Broccoli Recipe"I have made this a couple or more times. It’s easy & quick to prepare. I like this for a quick meal. It will be my go to recipe."

SUBSCRIBE & RECEIVE

5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners

SUBSCRIBE & RECEIVE

MY TOP 10 EASY DINNER EBOOK!

5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners

SUBSCRIBE & RECEIVE

MY TOP 10 EASY DINNER EBOOK!