Who says pasta salad has to be saved for the summer? This Greek orzo with creamy lemon dijon dressing might be your new favorite make-ahead lunch option.
I feel like the theme of my January cooking routine is “simplify”. After the start of the new year as social events started slowing down, I wanted to keep things as easy as possible, but still prioritize great-tasting meals (sans the restriction because “more, not less” amiright?).
I started the month by using recipes from Bon Appetit’s Feel Good Food Plan which I loved! It was a great way to kick off the year because it saved so much time and the meals were awesome. I highly recommend the warm chickpea bowls, by the way.
For the second half of the month I’ll be cooking from my January Meal Plan pinterest board. I’ve been using it as a hub for recipes that include lot’s of fish and seafood, whole grains, beans, fresh produce and herbs. Feel free to follow along with me and use the recipes for yourself too! Pinterest is a fantastic way to organize your recipes - both the favorites that you make and again along with new ones that are on your list.
This recipe checks all of the boxes and was originally created as a side dish because I had the ingredients on hand and needed something to pair with fish. The best part is, it can be made ahead of time (Sunday food prep!), doubles as a lunch entree, and is super flavorful from the addition of fresh lemon juice and salty feta cheese crumbles.
Let me also just say orzo is in the regular rotation in my house (and maybe it should be at yours too?). It’s a rice-shaped pasta that cooks in just seven minutes and can be doctored up with any vegetables you are currently loving. It has great chew, but doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients, which can sometimes happen with larger pasta. I’m a big fan of the add-ins here and they really do shine.
Of course we have all of the best Mediterranean things: fresh grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, dill, red onion and a simple dressing to pull it all together. The lemon dijon vinaigrette couldn’t be easier and has a great silkiness! Remember to keep tiny jars around for your homemade salad dressings! The one photographed here is an old anchovy jar and worked great for this.
The beans are totally optional but if you have them on hand, I say add them. You could easily substitute garbanzo beans or lentils too. The fiber will give this more staying power, plus I think we all need more beans in our life. #thingsdietitianssay
Make this Greek orzo on Sunday for an easy, fresh and interesting packed lunch option. Serve it over some spinach with your favorite seasonal fruit on the side for a flavorful and satisfying meal. Grab the full recipe below.
Greek Orzo Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing
Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: Serves 3-4 for lunch, 6 as a side dish | Total time: 20 minutes
1 cup dry orzo pasta
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
1, 14.5 oz can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
4-5 sprigs fresh dill, rough chopped
Fresh mint leaves, torn (optional)
Cook orzo per package directions, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Meanwhile, make the dressing by adding the lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, plus a pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper to a small jar. Screw on the lid tightly and shake until creamy. Set aside.
Add all ingredients to a medium-size bowl and stir to evenly distribute the dressing. Garnish with extra herbs and lemon wedges.
Notes: store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
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