Sun-dried Tomato and Chicken Orzo Salad

© Whole Foods

Oh man, I’ve been dreaming about making this salad again and again since we ate it last week. This was soooo good. Cold, light, full of veggies and yet plenty filling. Back in Nashville I used to visit Whole Foods for lunch and hit up their salad bar. I always loved their cold orzo and spinach salad; it was the perfect addition to my greens and helped fill me up. Sadly, Encinitas doesn’t have a Whole Foods yet, although they are building one right now (yay!) so last week I went to their website hoping to find the recipe they use in their salad bar for orzo pasta salad. Ladies and gents….Whole Foods has hundreds of AMAZING recipes on their site! I had no idea. It’s totally worth checking out.

So back to the recipe… last week I bookmarked several recipes from Whole Foods that I wanted to try, and this was the first. The only problem–I couldn’t seem to find orzo pasta at a decent price. Sure, they had it at the regular grocery store, but for $7.99 for a jar of it, I had to pass. Thankfully, I stopped by another health food store, Jimbos, and they sold orzo in their bulk bins for cheap so I could get just what I needed. J and I gobbled this dish up for dinner one night and then finished it off the next day for lunch. I’m already planning on making it again this week to munch on all weekend long. This would be a perfect dish to share at a potluck or bbq.

Ingredients
Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 T) divided
1 1/2 C water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 C orzo pasta (it kinda looks like long-grained rice…only it’s not)
2 zucchini cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 C grape tomatoes, red or yellow, halved
2 C (about 3 handfuls) packed baby spinach leaves
1/2 C red or yellow peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 C sun-dried tomatoes (from a jar)
1/2 C sliced black olives
3-4 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

• Place 3 tablespoons lemon juice and water in a pan and heat over medium heat. When water is barely simmering, add chicken and cover. Simmer until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove from pan, cool and shred into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

• Cook orzo in rapidly boiling water until just tender. Drain under running cold water, then set aside. At the same time, heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a skillet and add sliced zucchini. Cook on medium heat until lightly golden.

• In a large bowl, combine cooked chicken, orzo, zucchini, grape tomatoes, baby spinach, red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and olives in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add olive oil, remaining lemon juice, salt and pepper and toss to combine thoroughly.

Makes about 4 main dish servings, 6 side dish servings.

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