Thursday, June 3, 2010

Brown Bagging It: Orzo Salad

TWSF doesn’t really keep up with current events, so we were suppressed to learn that the global economy is not doing so well. We thought that Greece going bankrupt meant that people were changing their eating habits to a more healthy diet, thus putting poor deep-fryer grease suppliers out of business. Boy did we have egg on our face. TWSF decided that it was time to tighten our belts and stop spending up to $8 a day on convenient retail lunches. So we decided to produce a series of posts that will feature a dish that can be made ahead of time and used as lunch for an entire week. In honor of Greece’s pending demise we present a regional dish, orzo salad. (We know orzo originated in Italy, but who knows, they might be next).

This was originally a Giada recipe, but we changed it so much we are calling it our own.

For the Salad:
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups orzo
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
A package of grape tomatoes, halved
1 summer squash (zucchini or yellow, we did one half of each), cut into small pieces
1/2 large purple onion, finely diced
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1/2 cup mint, chopped (to really save some money, grow your own herbs)
Feta cheese, to taste
1 piece of chicken breast

For the Red Wine Vinaigrette: (no need to buy Newman’s Own)
1 cup of good olive oil 
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
The juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1. Try to chop the vegetables in parallel with what you are doing on the stovetop (time is money)

2. Bring 5 cups of the broth to boil in a covered saucepan over high heat, keep the other cup for reserve if the orzo gets a little dry while cooking

3. Once the broth is boiling, stir in the orzo, cover loosely and stir regularly, reduce the heat a bit and cook until tender, no time estimate here just periodically eat some until it feels right

4. Sauté the squash in a pan coated with olive oil over medium heat, you want to under cook the squash a bit so cook until it just starts losing it’s firmness, about 5 minutes

5. Cook the chicken and cut into small pieces (we're not going to explain how to cook chicken here)

6. Once the orzo is done, strain then put in a large bowl to cool completely.

7. Mix the chick peas, tomatoes, squash, onion, basil, mint, feta and chicken into the orzo (once fully cooled)

8. Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients until mixed thoroughly

9. Stir in enough of the vinaigrette into the salad to coat

There you have it, TWSF’s Orzo Salad is truly a great recipe. . .  for savings. Your belt will be tightening in no time (well maybe not, orzo has a lot of carbs). The best part of bring your own lunch is that you can use the time you would have spent walking to Quiznos, standing in line and walking back to be more productive at work!

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