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This chicken and orzo salad is super quick and super easy to prepare – and is super delicious, too! While the orzo is cooking, I chop the roast chicken, green onions, cilantro and jalapeño pepper. Then, while the pasta is cooling, I whisk up the deeply flavorful dressing – comprised of soy sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar and dark sesame oil. (My mouth is watering just writing this!) Mix it all together and dinner is ready – in around 20 minutes from when you put the pasta on to cook.
I also love the versatility of this dish. Sometimes I add cooked and cooled snow peas or shelled edamame, and/or mix in some chopped roasted peanuts to amp up the peanut flavor and add a bit of crunch. It’s also good with seeded and chopped fresh tomatoes.
Serve this dish on a hot summer night together with our Chilled Tomato Dill Soup and homemade bread – like mom’s Anise Bread (in my cookbook Fresh Tastes). Finish the meal with some light and refreshing Berry Cream Parfaits. YUM!
Serves: 4 to 5
- 8 ounces uncooked orzo
- 1 pound roast chicken (I use purchased rotisserie), chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 bunch green onions (around 5), chopped (white and some of the green part)
- ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 medium to large jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded, deveined and minced
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (not fresh ground or old fashioned)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons cup dark sesame oil
- 1½ teaspoons sugar
- Cook orzo in boiling salted water until al dente (8 to 10 minutes). Drain and transfer to large mixing bowl.
- Stir in ¼ cup sesame oil and mix well. Stir in chopped chicken, green onions, cilantro and pepper. Set aside.
- For dressing, in a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, sesame oil and sugar and whisk to combine. (If your peanut butter is very thick, you may need to mash it with a salad fork to get it to combine.)
- Pour dressing over chicken mixture and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make ahead: Pasta salad can be made one day ahead, covered and refrigerated.