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Chicken Orzo Salad

Chicken Orzo Salad

Hey there!

I'm back after a week of indulging in some not-so-healthy treats. But now, I'm excited to share something fresh and green that's sure to bring a smile to your face! Funny enough, I've never been a salad person—I'd much rather have my veggies cooked. But recently, I've been giving salads a chance, and I've gotta say, they've really grown on me! In fact, I've found a new favorite lunch recipe that I'd love to share with you: Chicken Orzo Salad. It's a delicious combination of cajun-grilled chicken, creamy homemade thousand island dressing, fresh and crisp romaine lettuce, roasted peppers, and orzo. It's a dish that's both flavorful and satisfying. Plus, it's pretty healthy too!

This dish is sure to become a favorite! Perfect for lunch or dinner, it can even double as a tasty side for gatherings. I love serving this grilled chicken orzo salad cold or chilled, topped with cheese and avocado.

With that being said, follow my recipe to create this delightful green bowl of happiness.

Grilling the Cajun Chicken:

  1. Grab a bowl and toss in the chicken tenders along with olive oil and Cajun seasoning. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. To create chicken tenders, slice chicken breasts lengthwise into strips approximately 1 inch wide. 

  2. Preheat your grill, grill pan, or skillet to medium-high heat.

  3. Place the chicken tenders on the grill and cook until they develop a golden exterior, about 4 to 5 minutes per side, depending on thickness, until cooked through.

Dressing the Part:

  1. Mix together all the dressing ingredients in your preferred container – whether it's a bowl, cup, glass jar, or even a wine cup – and whisk until well combined. Take a taste and adjust the flavor as needed, tweaking the salt and pepper until it reaches your desired flavor.

Creating the Orzo:

  1. Get a big pot of water boiling.
  2. Toss in the orzo, let it boil until it's al dente (follow the box's lead). Then, take it out into a strainer.
  3. Mix the orzo with pesto, add lettuce, and pour in 1/3 of the Thousand Island dressing. 

Serving the Fun:

  1. Serve the chopped lettuce in the bottom of a big bowl.
  2. Add the dressing you made on top of the lettuce.
  3. Add the pesto orzo to the mix.
  4. Top it off with the sliced roasted bell peppers, cheese, almonds and chicken.
  5. Add more dressing if you'd like.
  6. Enjoy. It might seem a an ugly mess, but definitely a delicious one.

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Easy Preparation: This salad is easy to recreate, and you can have all the ingredients ready ahead of time. Cook the orzo, grill the chicken, chop the lettuce and roasted peppers, and mix the dressing in advance. Keep them separate in the fridge until you're ready to assemble the salad for a quick, healthy meal.
  2. Personalize Your Salad: Customize the ingredients to suit your taste preferences. Swap out proteins or greens, adjust quantities, or add extra toppings like nuts or dried fruit for variety. Don't be afraid to experiment and make it your own!
  3. Meal Prep or Leftovers:  Make a large batch and store it in airtight containers in the fridge for easy grab-and-go lunches or dinners throughout the week. The flavors will meld together even more, making each serving even more delicious with time.
  4. Add avocado: It completely slipped my mind, but as a big fan of avocado, it's an essential addition that shouldn't be overlooked.
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