Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lemon-Dill Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Poached Chicken

This recipe post was supposed to be for key lime pie. Unfortunately, 5 minutes into baking the crust (at a mere 350°F), my brand new, glass pie pan decided to explode into about 50 pieces! As if that wasn’t bad enough, my apartment now smells like the ginger snap crust, but I can’t eat any of it because it’s covered in shards of glass - so frustrating!! Luckily, the dinner I had prepared for tonight turned out very well, so I’ve posted that recipe, instead.

Today was another disgustingly hot day and our kitchen has no ventilation at all, which can make cooking a nightmare. I wanted to make something cool that would involve as little effort and stove time as possible, so I decided to make a cold orzo salad with chicken, asparagus, lemon, and dill. This is a great recipe for a hot day because none of the steps take more than 10 minutes to execute - and since it’s meant to be served cold, the steps can be done back-to-back or spaced out at leisure throughout the day.

Makes one very large serving, or two lunch-sized portions

½ cup orzo
½ lb asparagus
4 oz chicken breast
3 tbsp lemon juice
3-4 sprigs fresh dill
2 tsp olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
  1. Rinse the asparagus and chop into 2-inch pieces. Steam for about 3 minutes, or until tender. Run under cold water, and drain before setting aside.
  2. Measure out ½ cup orzo and rinse thoroughly - otherwise the cooked orzo will taste too starchy, and it will detract from the other flavors. Add to boiling water, and cook for 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well, then add to the asparagus. Slowly add 2 tsp olive oil - this amount can vary depending on personal taste, so you can always add more, but be careful not to overdo it.
  3. Place chicken breast in a pot and fill pot with enough water to cover the chicken by about 1-inch. Add a small bit of kosher salt and bring to a boil - then, reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then remove from heat and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, allowing the chicken to continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes.
  4. Using two forks, or your fingers, shred the poached chicken breast. Add the chicken to the orzo-asparagus mixture, and add lemon juice and a pinch of kosher salt. Use clean scissors to cut the dill sprigs into fine pieces, and then mix together well, using your hands to ensure even distribution. Cover bowl and refrigerate until cool. Serve alone, or with a green salad and fresh bread for a larger meal.
I hope you like it - as always, please try it for yourself and write in with comments!