Ah, my favorite time of the day is right now. Dinner is done, the kitchen is clean, and I can relax on the couch and blog. This evening is especially welcome after the tough day I had at work. Coming back from vacation is always difficult, but today my to-do list was never-ending and I had a ton of assignments that needed to be finished by the end of the day. It was super stressful so coming home and enjoying an easy and fresh dinner was exactly what I needed! Before I share the recipe with you though, let’s talk about my workout.
Last night Fabio didn’t get home from New York until after midnight. To make things worse, he needed help bringing in all his bags and, since it was late, he had to park far away. This meant I had to stay up waiting for him and didn’t get to bed until way past my bedtime. So, when the alarm rang at 6 am for my morning workout, I opted to snooze for an extra 30 minutes and only ran a mile with Jack. I felt a little guilty for skipping the other half of my workout, but my body was so drained from Memorial Day Weekend and I knew it made more sense to sleep in. I will just have to vamp up my workout tomorrow!
I was feeling pretty uninspired today when I was thinking about dinner (must have been that lack of sleep/busy workday bringing me down) so I turned to Cooking Light for some inspiration. I saw this beautiful Chicken Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese which looked bright, colorful, fresh, and easy. I was immediately hooked! Although I had most of the ingredients on hand, I didn’t have any orzo or arugula so I picked some up from Trader Joe’s after work. I couldn’t wait even one day to make this delicious recipe!
Luckily, it lived up to its expectations! It was so flavorful and I loved all the different elements. I actually wound up omitting completely forgetting to add the goat cheese, but it honestly wasn’t missing a thing! I loved this light summer salad and was happy I could incorporate so many veggies into one dish. Here’s how it came together.
First I cooked the orzo according to the package directions. If you’ve never had orzo before, it’s a rice-shaped pasta that makes a great base for salads. I used Trader Joe’s brand (shocking, I know).
While it was cooking, I got all the veggies together. I first chopped up some spinach and arugula. Then I plucked a few leaves (about 3 tbsp.) from my basil plant, julienned them (remember when I talked about that?), and mixed them with the other greens.
Then I moved the greens to the side and got started chopping some red onion, grape tomatoes, asparagus (not pictured- woops), and bell peppers.
The bell peppers I used were frozen (I always buy them in bulk, chop them, and freeze them) so I tossed them in a skillet with the asparagus for a few minutes until both were tender. I used my handy Misto olive oil sprayer to keep the oil to a minimum. I bought it for just a few bucks from TJ Maxx/Ross/Home Goods/one of those stores ages ago and it’s one of my favorite kitchen gadgets!
Once all the veggies were ready, I got the chicken going. I cooked two frozen chicken breasts on the George Foreman grill and seasoned with them with salt and pepper. I love my George Foreman because you just have to plop the frozen chicken down and walk away What could be easier?
Then it was time to make the vinaigrette. It took me literally three seconds to bring together and included some olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. So, so easy.
By this time the orzo was finished cooking so I drained it and allowed it to cool for a minute or two. Then I combined everything (the arugula, spinach, basil, asparagus, bell peppers, red onion, tomatoes, chopped chicken, and vinaigrette) together in a large bowl until everything was mixed thoroughly.
Then it was time to serve!
All the flavors came together beautifully. Plus the recipe made enough for us to have leftovers for lunch! Woohoo!
Chicken Orzo Summer Salad (Adapted from Cooking Light)
- 1 1/4 cups uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
- 3 cups chopped grilled chicken breast strips
- 1 cup trimmed arugula
- 1 cup trimmed spinach
- 3 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (I used a mix of red and yellow)
- 1/2 cup chopped asparagus
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well.
- Chop the next 6 ingredients (through red onion) and add to a large bowl; toss well.
- Combine vinegar, oil, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
- Drizzle vinegar mixture over pasta mixture; toss well to coat.
This salad made me so excited for summer because of all the great produce that’s available. I loved the crunch of the asparagus, the soft tomatoes, and the buttery pasta. Yum!!
What are your favorite seasonal foods? As much as I love fresh tomatoes and asparagus in summer, there’s something to be said for apples in the fall and butternut squash in winter!