10 August 2012

Orzo Salad and Roasted Chicken Breasts in Garlic and Lemon

Oh, man! I love high summer ... it seems that the garden is giving up all sorts of good stuff. It's time for new broccoli and last night's dinner consisted of a warm orzo salad made with broccoli florets, pignoli, slivers of avocado, bits of shallots, and a dressing made with broccoli pesto, a touch of sour cream and lemon zest. A salad like this just cries out for a nicely roasted piece of chicken or grilled salmon or bluefish ... we opted for roasted peppery chicken breasts that were laying in a dozen pieces of roasted garlic cloves and big fat slices of lemon - luscious! Just imagine our plates rounded out with fat, juicy slices of tomatoes and cold, crispy cucumber spears ... Oh, man! I love high summer ... but you already knew that! Right?

This orzo salad is another of Heidi Swanson's recipes. I have fallen more and more in love with her cookbook, super natural every day, as our garden has given us great summer produce. Here's her recipe with just the minor addition of the minced shallots.

 Orzo Salad
a Heidi Swanson recipe with just a tiny change

Serves 6

1 ½ c. orzo – whole wheat or regular
5 c. broccoli, cut into small florets and tiny stem pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 c. toasted pine nuts – divided - ⅔ c. for pesto and ⅓ c. for garnish topping
⅓ c. grated Parmesan cheese
juice of one lemon
¼ c. olive oil, plus more for drizzling to taste
¼ c. sour cream or crème fraiche
grated lemon zest
1 small shallot, peeled and minced
1 small ripe avocado, peeled and sliced into small chunks

Making the Dish:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and cook the orzo until it is just aldente.
  2. Drain the cooked orzo and rinse well. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the broccoli and drop it into a pot of boiling water. Iume the broccoli for just 1 minutes. Drain and place the broccoli in an ice bath to chill it well. Drain again and let it dry out a bit.
  4. To make the pesto, place the chunks of garlic,2 c. cooked broccoli, ⅔ c. pine nuts, the Parmesan cheese, ¼ tsp. Kosher salt, 2 tbsp. lemon juice in a blender or food processor bowl. Whiz to a smooth paste, as you drizzle in the olive oil and sour cream/crème fraiche.
  5. Mince the shallots and prepare the avocado.
  6. Just before serving, toss the orzo and broccoli together, pour over ¾ of the pesto and mix. Toss on the shallots and the avocado and gently fold ogether to incorporate the vegetables.
  7. If the pesto needs thinning, add a bit of water to the remaining pesto and drizzle over the top of the salad. Toss to bring the last of the pesto through the salad.
  8.  Top the salad with the lemon zest and remaining pine nuts.
  9. Sprinkle on a bit more grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
  10. Serve with grilled meats or roasted chicken.

Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Lemon


6 fresh chicken breasts, bone-in and with skin
1 large lemon, washed and sliced into thick slices
8 - 12 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
lemon pepper or plain black pepper
Kosher salt
olive oil

deep roasting pan

Making the Dish:

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit.

2. Oil the bottom of the roasting pan and place the lemon slices over the bottom of the pan.

3. Wash, dry, and sprinkle the chicken breasts with the lemon pepper and a bit of Kosher salt.

4. place the chicken on the layer of lemon slices. Drop in the smashed garlic cloves.

5. Roast the chicken breasts for about 15-20 minutes - just until they meat at the thickest part of the breast is pink/white. There should still be pink juices coming from the meat.

6. Turn on the broiler and brown the skin tops. Watch carefully.

7. Remove the chicken from the broiler, cover the pan closely and let the meat rest for ten minutes while you plate the rest of the meal.

8. Arrange the breasts on a platter and scatter the garlic and lemon slices around. Drizzle some of the pan juices over top. Serve with a crisp white wine!


  1. How delicious looking! It doesn't get any better than that for me! I can't wait to try your salad recipe!

    Happy weekend!

  2. I absolutely love orzo, and it's perfect with pine nuts. What a great-looking dinner!

  3. I'm so use to making Ina's orzo salad this will be wonderful change. I love this part of summer too, when there is a glut of delicious fresh vegetables. I just bought whole wheat orzo last month and haven't opened it yet, now I have a yummy recipe to use the orzo up. Gorgeous photos.


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