Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lemony Orzo-Veggie Salad with Chicken

As I may have mentioned yesterday- it's hot.  Really hot.  A prolonged temperature that we don't normally  see until August and yet, end of June... heat activate!

This has left me with no desire to use my kitchen appliances, especially the oven because our kitchen is tiny and the first floor is tiny so cooking anything with steam?  Steams up the whole house.  Using the oven?  Heats the already warm first floor.

So I present the perfect recipe for this weather.  I made it on Tuesday night and figured out that it does work as a full dinner.  Just the right amount of a full feeling between the orzo and the chicken for a hot summer night.  Plus it only takes 20 minutes to make (even for a slow chopper like myself) and is minimal on the cooking.

Total: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


3/4 cup uncooked orzo
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about one average sized lemon, I use lemon juice out of the container for most of my lemon juice needs but since you need rind anyway this is a perfect excuse to buy a fresh one)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (the original recipe only uses 1 cup but we like food a bit heartier in this house)
1 cup diced cucumber (works out to about 1/2 an average sized cucumber)
1/2 of a large red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (We love onions so I upped this ingredient as well)
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (I hate dill but I can tolerate it in small doses.  For this reason, I put less in then the recipe calls for and it worked out to be quite yummy, even for those who don't like dill.)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese (The original recipe calls for goat cheese but my husband doesn't like goat cheese.  Feta worked nicely- just make sure you don't oversalt the water you are cooking the orzo in or it may make your salad too salty.)


1. Cook orzo according to package directions (I cook orzo like pasta, which is probably the wrong way to do it but it works great for all the summer salads I use it for.  I just bring water to a boil add a bit of salt and then the orzo, cook for about 8 minutes).

2. Drain and rinse with cold water (I don't rinse my pasta, it actually pulls off nutrients and flavor when you do that.  Or so Italians say, and since it's kinda their field I believe them.  If you just make sure to not overcook the pasta to begin with it's fine, also just allow a bit of time for it to cool.); place in a large bowl.

3. Combine lemon rind and next 6 ingredients (through black pepper), stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle juice mixture over orzo; toss to coat.

4. Add chicken and next 4 ingredients (through dill); toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with cheese.

Because of Bill's job, we generally eat dinner at different times.  This salad tastes just fine cold and refrigerated.  So great that he ate all the salad that was left in about 20 minutes flat.  Because it was that good.

Original recipe can be found on Cooking Light.  The nutritional information is under it, but if you follow my ingredient list the nutritional info will be wrong.  However, since the original only has 275 calories per serving, I think we all have a bit of room until this would become a fattening meal.

In other food links: Fine Cooking has a new deal where they'll send you one recipe every Mon-Fri that is 30 min or less.  Sign up here.  Just a warning, their normal recipes/magazine generally have multi part recipes that involve a lot of technique and ingredients that aren't in most home pantries/spice racks.  I'm not sure if this new feature will be different, we'll see.


Angela said...

This sounds delicious! I'll be saving it to try out sometime.
I'll also be checking out Fine Cooking, I'm always in need of quick dinner options.

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