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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Busy Day Dinner

It takes a little planning, a little foresight, and a little drive to make it happen, but cooking dinner at home on a busy night is possible. This morning, knowing I wouldnt have a lot of time later for cooking, I decided to defrost some chicken breasts. (Step 1) Wanting something moderately healthy and yet flavorful, I opted for orzo pasta, tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and fresh mint. The entire meal, from opening the thawed chicken to tossing the entire dish together and serving, took thirty minutes. And, it was delicious!
Greek-Style Orzo Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 package dried orzo
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/4 + 1/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely minced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and cracked black pepper
* 1/4 tsp. crushed dried chiles (optional)

Directions:
According to package directions, boil water, add about 2 tablespoons of salt, and cook dried orzo. While orzo is cooking, clean chicken breasts, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and half the lemon zest. Add about 1/4 cup olive oil to a skillet on medium high heat. Sear the breasts for 4-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through and golden brown. During last minute of cooking, pour in half the lemon juice to create a pan sauce. Remove from heat and allow the chicken to sit in the pan, covered, for 5 minutes. In the meantime, strain your cooked orzo and place in a large bowl. Immediately toss warm orzo with 1/3 cup olive oil and remaining lemon juice/zest. Let sit till room temperature. Remove chicken from pan sauce, chop into bite size bits. Add to orzo. Pour remaining pan sauce over orzo. Add crumbled feta, salt, pepper, crushed chiles and mint. Stir gently to combine. If you are in a hurry, go ahead and eat. If not, let it sit in fridge for at least one hour before serving!

(Above picture is another version with fresh parsley and sundried tomatoes. There are many ways to prepare this dish.)

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