a week or so ago, in response to my salad a day post, my friend leeza sent me a recipe for a lemon herb vinaigrette she had just tried. it sounded delicious and i knew i wanted to come up with a summery dinner salad to go with it. my wheels started turning and i had visions of going to the grocery store, picking out some great ingredients on my off day and whipping up something great.
…then i had car troubles, my car was stuck at the shop for the day and i was stranded at home. (more on that when i tell you about my weekend in newport!) good things about being stranded at home: it gave me motivation for a practice 5K before saturday and time to wrap up a couple of freelance projects. bad news: no way to get to the market!
instead, i rummaged through the cabinets and fridge and decided to use whatever we had on hand. the moral of this story is:this summery salad is totally customizable. it can be served hot or cold and can use what you’ve got! use my recipe as a guideline, but get creative :) in short, find a grain/pasta, a protein and some veggies. then follow the steps below and you’ll have a delicious meal.
in my case, we had orzo (i could have also used quinoa), a whole roast chicken (ready to make chicken salad with - but i had other plans), spinach (always on hand for my smoothies) and some red bell pepper for color. looking back, this is sort of the summer version of my one-pot lemony chicken and orzo. (full disclosure: i liked this one better, though!)
ingredients (for lemon herb vinaigrette)
2 T white wine vinegar
4 T extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon (appx. 1 T lemon juice)
2 T water
1 t dijon mustard (optional)
1 t garlic powder
1 t dried basil
1 t dried parsley
generous pinch kosher salt
ingredients (for salad)
1/2 cup orzo
appx. 2 cups diced chicken (we used about 2/3 the meat from this small roasted chicken - you could also use about 2-3 chicken breasts)
3 c. raw baby spinach
1/2 red bell pepper, coarsely diced
lemon vinaigrette (recipe above)
done with your collecting? let’s move onto the doing. if you set yourself up properly, this will involve very few pots & pans and will make your cleanup a breeze!
there’s the start of the show - the lemon herb vinaigrette! i made this in a good seasons bottle (great suggestion, leeza!) so after i poured everything in the bottle, i could easily shake it up before serving. if you don’t have an empty dressing bottle, you could always prep it in a small bowl and whisk the ingredients together.
either way, combine all the ingredients (vinegar, oil, water, lemon juice, optional mustard, salt and herbs) and shake ‘em up. set it aside while you prepare the rest of your salad.
alrighty, here’s where a little coordination will go a long way:
1. get your water boiling for your orzo while you dice your chicken.
2. put your spinach and bell peppers in the collander/strainer you’ll be draining your orzo in and set aside.
3. pour the orzo into the boiling water and cook as instructed on the box.
4. finish prepping your chicken while the orzo cooks and pour the cubes into a large mixing bowl (note: picture above is NOT a large mixing bowl, but i’m trying to help you people save on dishes. learn from my mistakes!) set it aside.
5. when your orzo is done cooking, pour the boiling water over the veggies in the strainer to gently wilt them. pour the spinach, peppers and orzo back into the pot, put a cover on it and let it sit for a few minutes to wilt everything a bit more.
pour the veggies and orzo on top of the chicken and mix everything together. grab your dressing from the fridge and pour it on top of everything. mix everything until it’s evenly and lightly coated. then grab a spoon, serve it up and dig in!
thanks again for the inspiration, leeza!