Remember Pasta Roni? It was a pasta salad kit from a box. Quick pasta salad in minutes! It was one of the grossest things i’ve ever tasted looking back. Pasta salad is one of those things where people expect it at every summer cookout. So when my co-worker brought this for “Salad Wednesdays” (Yippeee!!), it was so good, I couldn’t help but recreate it.
I’ve always had it the same way and was never impressed by it. Soybean oil Italian dressing+ cork screw pasta+ red tomatoes + grated parmesan =Blah. It’s like a staple at BBQ’s like turkey is expected on thanksgiving. I remember growing up, you couldn’t give it away at the end of the cookout and the person who brought it would go home with more than they planned to. The older I got, I began to make my own variations: Pesto, Caesar, and recently, this light go-to. The basics of a great pasta salad include:
- Eat hot or cold
- You can literally throw anything in your fridge in it and it will taste amazing.
- Effortlessly transported
When it comes to pasta my first loves are tortellini, ravioli, and cavatappi, but I love the lightness and versatility of orzo; besides…it’s so pretty. You can make this without chicken, but why would you do that? Adding protein makes it a complete meal. This salad is super quick, packed with veggies, peppery arugula, tangy red wine vinaigrette, and perfectly salted feta. You can also use goat cheese crumbles as a substitute as well.
Try this for your 4th of July BBQ. It will save you some time, make happy faces, and you will take home an empty bowl 😉
Chicken Orzo Salad with Feta
Calories 191/Fat 4g/Carbs 27g/Fiber 4g/Protein 12g
1¼c. whole wheat orzo
3 cups chopped grilled chicken breast (Save time by buying a rotisserie chicken or bake a chicken breast for 25 min. @ 375 degrees)
1 ½ cups arugula
1 cup red/yellow grape tomatoes, halved(Yellow makes it so pretty!)
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped red onion
3 tbs. fresh basil, chopped (Fresh is best)
1 tsp. fresh or dried oregano
6 tbsp. crumbled Feta or goat cheese
3 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper (I love fresh black pepper)
2 tsp. honey or to taste.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
- Combine pasta, chicken, and the next 6 ingredients in a large bowl.
- Whisk vinegar, oil, salt, & pepper, and honey in a small bowl. Drizzle vinaigrette over pasta mixture and mix well. Sprinkle with feta.
- Orzo is a great substitution for rice or risotto
- Whole wheat is the healthier option, but feel free to substitute regular orzo if you can’t find it.
- Cook whole wheat pasta a minute or two longer since it has more fiber.
- Standard orzo will slightly change the nutritional value.
- Toss in olives or any other veggies you have on hand.
*Adapted from Mom-Machine