Lemon and Chicken Orzo

June 20, 2012

Happy first official day of summer!

The summer solstice has always been one of my favorite days of the year. Today we are looking at temperatures in the 80’s and almost 16 hours of daylight. Seriously, what’s not to love?

With summer officially here, BBQ’s are soon to be plentiful—and you can’t arrive empty handed. That’s where a quick and easy pasta salad comes into hand. This Lemon and Chicken Orzo is the perfect go-to.

It’s light, refreshing and cool.

I came across the original recipe in Cooking Light and have used it as a base more than a couple of times. The lemon and olive oil are fantastic on a hot summer day—especially compared to pasta salad’s mayo-heavy counterparts. You can also mix up the vegetables and use whatever you have on hand or seasonal favorites.

Really, the possibilities are endless with this salad. Mostly, I make sure I have the orzo, lemon, olive oil and a fresh herb. I usually have these items on hand, so no extra trips to the grocery store are needed.

Moral of the story: a versatile salad is a great salad.

Lemon and Chicken Orzo

3/4 cup uncooked orzo

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

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

1 cup cooked and cubed chicken breast

1/2 cup diced English cucumber

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes

1/4 cup halved green olives (they had them at Trader Joes in cans—I was intrigued)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Start by cooking the orzo according to the package. Place cooked (and drained) orzo in a large bowl. Whisk together lemon zest, juice, oil, salt, garlic, honey and pepper in a small bowl.

Combine the remaining ingredients with the cooked orzo and drizzle the lemon juice mixture over the orzo. Stir to combine everything.

Recipe: Adapted from Cooking Light