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