A Squared: What's for Dinner Wednesday: Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What's for Dinner Wednesday: Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

I realize that my What's for Dinner Wednesday recipes have been lacking some variety lately and that you also must be wondering if Mr. Colvin and I eat anything besides chicken and pasta.  We do, but now that the holidays are over we have been trying to get back to healthier eating habits so that he is in marathon-ready shape and so that I can have a competitive edge in my company's Biggest Loser competition!  So, for the next few weeks be prepared for a lot of recipes involving whole grains, vegetables, and lean proteins.
The below recipe is one that I came up with last summer when I was looking for a light side dish for grilled chicken. It is a perfect summer recipe, but nice anytime you're looking for a lighter pasta recipe.  I served it alongside Cooking Light's Sauteed Chicken with Olive Tapenade.

Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 8 oz. dry orzo
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 3 cups arugula or baby spinach, chopped*
  • 10.5 oz. grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  When fully cooked, drain orzo and do not rinse.  In a large (non-metal) bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Add the warm orzo and chopped red onion to the vinaigrette and toss to coat.  Let the orzo mixture sit for 10 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Add arugula/spinach and tomatoes to the orzo mixture and toss to combine.  Season with additional salt and/or pepper to taste.  Serve at room temperature as a side dish to grilled chicken or seafood.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings depending on whether you are eating it as a main course or as a side.  I pack the leftovers for a light, but filling lunch throughout the week.  If serving as a main dish, add toasted pine nuts and grated parmesan or romano cheese to round out the meal.

*The choice of arugula or spinach is really based on your preference or on what is available at your grocery store.  The peppery taste of the arugula pairs really well with the sweetness of the dressing and the tomatoes, but the spinach holds up better if you plan on refrigerating the salad and eating later.

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