Chicken Orzo Pasta Salad
(16 oz) package of orzo
chicken thighs, cut into pieces (can substitute chicken breasts)
cup kalamata olives (halved)
(6 oz) pkg of feta cheese
bag baby spinach leaves
Sea salt to season chicken
Lemon pepper to season chicken
Bring the chicken broth and 1 tbsp of butter to boil and cook the orzo to al dente (8 to 10 minutes).
While this is cooking, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a skillet. Season chicken with sea salt and lemon pepper and cook in the skillet on medium heat until brown and liquid runs clear (4 to 6 minutes).
Drain orzo. Place in a large boil and sitr in remaining 1 tbsp of butter so that it doesn't stick. Set aside.
In another skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until light brown in color (1-2 minutes). Then add pine nuts, basil, thyme and cayenne pepper. Stir slowly until golden brown.
In the large bowl containing the orzo, combine all ingredients: chicken, pine nut mixture, spinach, olives, capers, feta cheese and lemon juice. Stir together until spinach has slightly wilted and ingredients are evenly mixed together.
More About This Recipe
- Whenever I'm in a pinch for my "bring" to a barbecue, this Chicken Orzo Pasta Salad always saves the day.
Summer is awesome (I know, "duh"). I am fully lovin' the sun, my friends and the weekly barbecues. However, the weeks get so busy that, without fail, I find myself a few hours before heading to a grill out totally empty handed and freaking the frack out. So when I need something that's quick, delicious and sure to rock the "cue", I whip up a batch of this Chicken Orzo Pasta Salad.
To get things started, I cook a package of orzo in a pot of boiling chicken broth and a tablespoon of butter. While this on it's way, I focus on getting the chicken done. I like to season it with sea salt and some serious lemon pepper love. The lemon pepper does a great job of boosting that citrus flavor that works wonders in a Mediterranean dish.
With that done, drain the orzo and stir in another tablespoon of butter so that it doesn't stick. Set that aside and get ready to make what I like to call "the goodness." The shimmy of your salad. In a small skillet with heated olive oil, put in the garlic and let it cook until it's slightly brown. Then stir in and toast the pine nuts, basil, thyme and cayenne pepper until golden brown. Make sure you're using a medium heat, otherwise this can burn up quickly. You'll know you're doing it right, because you're kitchen will smell amazing (another perk to this dish).
Now comes the easy part. In a large bowl (and I mean a biggun) stir everything together: chicken, pine nut mixture, orzo, kalamta olives, capers, feta cheese, spinach — and you, my friend, are ready for your BBQ bash.
A few tips:
you can definitely do this veggie style; just substitute the chicken broth for either water or vegetable broth and leave out the meat
while this is great as a warm salad, you can make it the night before and refrigerate — it's just as great as a cold salad
if you want to have some for later, I highly recommend storing some before leaving the house. I've never come home with leftovers
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (8 ounces each), halved
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
- ¾ cup whole-wheat orzo
- 2 cups thinly sliced baby spinach
- 1 cup chopped cucumber
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Brush chicken with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165 degrees F, 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a quart of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add orzo and cook for 8 minutes. Add spinach and cook for 1 minute more. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Add cucumber, tomato, onion, feta and olives. Stir to combine.
Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir all but 1 tablespoon of the dressing into the orzo mixture. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the chicken and serve with the salad.
Chicken Orzo Pasta Salad
Roasted Vegetables and and a Sorrento Lemon-Italian Herbs dressing makes this colorful main dish salad a real crowd pleaser.
• 2 Red and/or Yellow Bell Peppers, chopped to bite size
• 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
• 1 medium Red Onion, chopped
• 3 tablespoons of The Olive Tap’s Sorrento Lemon or Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
• 1 whole Roasted Chicken broken up into bite size pieces
• 1 lb. box of orzo pasta
• 1 cup Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
• 1/2 cup Feta Cheese
• Salt and Pepper to taste
• Chiffonade (thin strips) of 3-4 Basil leaves
• 1/2 Cup The Olive Tap’s Sorrento Lemon or Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
• 1/2 Cup The Olive Tap’s Italian Herbs Riserva Balsamic Vinegar
• Salt and Pepper to taste
Note: This dressing can also be made with our Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar and Tuscan Herb Olive Oil.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine the peppers, garlic and onion. Add olive oil and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on shallow roasting pan and cook for 15 minutes, stir and
cook for an additional 15 minutes. Add chopped Chicken during the last 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set
2. While vegetables and chicken are cooking, add sufficient water to a 4 qt. pot and cook the orzo pasta to desired
doneness. Drain and set aside.
3. Prepare the dressing, whisking vigorously to combine.
4. Mix the roasted vegetables, chicken, pasta, tomatoes, feta and dressing together in a large bowl. Sprinkle fresh
Basil on top of salad. Serve and Enjoy!
Lemon Orzo Salad with Chicken
This lemon orzo salad recipe is a fresh, healthy, and colorful summer salad that's a breeze to make! Ready in about 30 minutes.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup), so I've added even more orzo recipes to my never-ending recipe list spreadsheet.
This lemon orzo pasta salad is easily customizable and lends itself to substitutions or additions. My mantra has always been that summer recipes like salads should be fuss-free. Who wants to be in the kitchen for hours when you can be outside? So, make this orzo pasta salad as-is or check out my suggestions in the recipe notes below.