In preparation for the summer’s bounty

The summer after we were married, I invented a dish that we refer to by the incredibly descriptive and original name of “orzo salad”.  I don’t remember the inspiration for it, but it was an immediate hit with Aaron and pretty much anyone else who tried it.  It quickly became a summer staple and last summer we discovered how much more incredible it is made with fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes (as is pretty much anything that you put just-picked tomatoes in).  After having such an abundance of delicious tomatoes, we got pretty spoiled and now rarely ever buy tomatoes from the store because they don’t even begin to compare.  As such, I hadn’t made orzo salad since the end of gardening season, but I got a sudden craving for it a couple days ago…and caved and bought tomatoes for it.  It kind of satisfied the craving, but definitely wasn’t the same so it certainly whet my appetite for what’s to come this summer…

Orzo Salad

Place a couple of frozen chicken breasts in a baking dish and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Place in a 400 degree oven (I don’t usually preheat it) and bake until done, usually about an hour.  While the chicken is baking, cook a package of orzo until done.  Drain and pour into a large bowl (you want the orzo to only fill about a half of it since you’ll be adding more ingredients that increase the size of the salad and trying to mix it all together…and you don’t want orzo all over the place.  Trust me on this one…).  Pour a good amount of olive oil and lots of balsamic vinegar over the orzo and mix until well-coated.  Season liberally with salt, pepper, lots of garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil and dried parsley (I’m sure this would be great with fresh herbs too, but I have yet to try it.  To me, using dried adds a milder herb flavour which I like in this dish).  Dice as many tomatoes as you want and mix in.  When the chicken is done baking, cut into bite-size pieces and add.  (At this point you need to decide whether or not you plan on serving the salad warm or chilled. Aaron prefers it warm so that’s what I usually do if we’re having it as a dinner or something.  However, if I’m planning on taking it somewhere, I usually chill it.)  If chilling, place bowl in the refrigerator for several hours.  Grate a good amount of mozzarella cheese, add and mix well.  Sometimes after it sits awhile, the orzo will absorb all the oil and vinegar and end up being kind of dry.  If that’s the case, just mix in some more before serving.  Enjoy!

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5 thoughts on “In preparation for the summer’s bounty

  1. Mmmm. I wonder if this would work with rice. . . of course I can’t have either right now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t bookmark for the future ;-).

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