I’m sitting here trying to figure out what to write. Does that ever happen to you? Whether you’re writing a novel or just writing an email, sometimes you just sit there staring at the computer screen thinking, what the hell am I going to say?!
As I sit here with writer’s block, completely at a loss as to what to say, I’m re-bingeing on back-to-back episodes of Breaking Bad. And then it occurs to me… since moving to the Bay Area, I have quickly grown accustom to the great weather and leaving all of the windows and doors wide open all day. Coming from the hot and humid east coast, this is a practice I am not at all used to. And because I am not used to living this way, I forget that I have neighbors on either side of me that I’m sure can hear the goings-on of this house through the porous walls. On one side of the house (the side that contains the kitchen), I usually listen to the radio, specifically NPR. Whereas, on the other side of the house there’s the office/TV room where all knowledge and everything I learned from NPR goes out the window and I watch things like Breaking Bad. When it occurs to me, that my neighbor on one side must think I’m cultured and up to date on current events. While the neighbor on the other side hears the eloquent stylings of Jessie Pinkman and his affinity for the word, ‘bitch’. Not to mention the generous sprinklings of the f-bomb. Yes, between my two neighbors one is living next to Dr. Jekyll and the other, Mr. Hyde. In all honesty, I’m hoping that I’m just being overly paranoid about being a good neighbor 😉
So onto the Chicken and Orzo Salad. This is one of my favorite dishes while living among boxes and clutter. It’s simple, healthy, fresh, and requires little effort after a long day of work. When I was making this dish amidst the towering boxes, I used a rotisserie chicken that I picked up at our local grocery store to make things easier – so by all means, if that’s what you would like to do to make your evening dinner a little easier, than go for it! Otherwise, I have provided a simple and delicious way to prepare the chicken. A hot pan, a little salt, some pepper and you’ve got a quick and easy chicken breast that’s juicy on the inside and golden-brown on the outside. If you make the chicken, you’re looking at about 30 minutes from start to finish for the entire dish. Use a rotisserie chicken, and you’re at 2o minutes. If time and sanity allows, on a busy day cooking up your own chicken is always preferable. However, if you pick-up a rotisserie chicken, no judgment – I totally understand. Either way, you’re going to love this dish!
- Pesto Dressing
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ½ cup parmesan, freshly grated
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Orzo Salad
- 16 ounces orzo pasta
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 5 ounces mixed baby greens
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil in preparation to cook the orzo.
- To make the pesto, add the basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse while slowly adding ½ cup olive oil until smooth. Add the salt and pepper and pulse a few more times to incorporate.
- To make the chicken, in a large heavy bottomed skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Liberally season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Cook on one side for 5 minutes, flip and cook the other side for 4 minutes. Remove, cover, and allow to rest. When cool, shred the chicken with two forks.
- Add the orzo pasta to the boiling water, stir immediately to make sure it doesn't clump. Cook according to the recommended manufactures time.
- Drain and rinse with cold water; drain and place in a large bowl.
- Add the pesto dressing to the orzo and toss well to combine. Add the tomatoes and shredded chicken breast, toss again. To serve, place a handful of lettuce on each plate and spoon the orzo chicken mixture on top. Serve and enjoy!