lunchbox life: copycat Fresh Market orzo salad with chicken


The red-topped containers are back to school!  After only two days with students, it’s crazy to think that I’m already back in the swing of things with school.  My feet hurt from standing in heels and my throat hurts from going through the syllabus and introducing my US History students to the spirit of Jamestown (cannibalism and all), but other than that, I’m almost back in the game.  Now that a full week approaches, it’s time to figure out what I’ll be furiously eating at 11:30 AM during my quick lunch break every day.

Everyone has their go-to side dish to make and take to parties.  Everyone also has their go-to side that they buy at the grocery store on the way to a party.  The Fresh Market’s orzo salad is so tasty, simple, and seems to show up at plenty of potlucks around Macon.  Because it’s served cold, I thought it would be a great lunch creation (or re-creation) on a bed of spinach with the addition of chicken for some protein for a main dish that I could think about from 1st through 4th period until my lovely lunchtime arrives. 

Copycat Fresh Market Orzo Salad with Chicken

6 oz. whole wheat orzo (or you could use the regular; I had WW on hand)

1 pkg. chicken breast tenderloins (about 10 oz.)

5 oz. reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

2 cups arugula

2 oz. pine nuts

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 lemon, juice and zest

1 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper

Cook the chicken with your preferred preparation method.  I did a quick pan fry with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and two minced cloves of garlic.  Chop into bite-size pieces and set aside to cool.

In a pan or in the oven, toast the pine nuts for a few minutes for flavor and texture.

Boil the orzo for about nine minutes (or according to package directions).  Drain and rinse with cold water.  In a large mixing bowl, combine orzo, arugula, chicken, whole tomatoes, feta, and pine nuts. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the orzo salad and mix to combine.  Evenly distribute the salad over a bed of spinach in each container.


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