On a nice, sunny day, a colorful and light pasta salad is what I crave the most for lunch. Of course the classic macaroni salad is nostalgic of childhood summers, but all of the mayonnaise and sugar make it hard to justify as a meal. This Greek orzo salad is the perfect healthy pasta salad alternative!
It has fresh vegetables, lean protein and carbs, and a burst of flavor from the lemon vinaigrette. There’s still plenty of decadence from the small amounts of cheese and cream in the orzo, and the feta on top, so you won’t feel deprived at all. If you want a less citrus-y dressing, just use 1 or 1.5 lemons instead, and add a few more tbls of water to dilute. I like to serve this dish at room temperature (but I will sometimes just eat leftovers cold,) with a side of pita and hummus.
Ingredients (4-6 servings)
-1 lb chicken breasts
-2 tsps dried oregano
-2 cups orzo pasta
-1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
-2 tbls heavy cream
-3 plum tomatoes, chopped
-1 seedless cucumber, chopped
-1 can chickpeas (15 oz)
-1/2 cup black pitted olives
-1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
-1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
-Salt and pepper
-2 lemons, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
-1/4 cup olive oil
-3 tbls red wine vinegar
-2 tbls water
-1 tbl agave syrup or honey
-1 tbl dijon mustard
-Salt and pepper
Instructions (35 minutes)
1. Drizzle olive oil on top of the chicken breasts and season with the oregano, and salt and pepper on both sides. Place on a well oiled aluminum lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients.
3. In a pot, bring water to a boil and cook the orzo pasta (about 9 minutes.) Drain well and place back on the stove on low heat. Stir in the parmesan cheese, heavy cream, and 1/2 of the vinaigrette, and let it thicken for a few minutes.
4. Once the chicken is done, cut into cubes and assemble the salad. Pour the remainder of the dressing over the top and toss.