Greek Orzo and Grilled Shrimp Salad with Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette

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I’m a big orzo fan. It’s super fast to cook, doesn’t feel too heavy and acts like a pasta without being too pasta-like. This dish by Bobby Flay incorporates my favorite orzo into a simple pasta salad with shrimp, cucumber, tomatoes, dill and feta, topped with a mustardy dressing. It’s really simple and fast. No brainer for a weeknight meal.

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TW’s Tips

  • Serve warm or cold — great either way.
  • I’d scale down the amount of dill a bit — it was a bit too dill-forward for me.
  • If you’re not into shrimp, substitute any other protein here — chicken, pork, grilled salmon would be delish.

Enjoy!

Greek Orzo and Grilled Shrimp Salad with Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound orzo, cooked al dente
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded, quartered lengthwise, and sliced
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus additional for brushing shrimp
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 16 medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined

Directions

Combine orzo, cucumber, green onions, and tomatoes in a large bowl. Place dill, vinegar, and mustard in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the vinaigrette over the orzo mixture and stir well to combine. Gently fold in the feta cheese.

Heat grill to high. Brush shrimp with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for approximately 2 minutes per side or until just cooked through. Divide orzo salad among 4 take-out containers or plates and top with 4 shrimp. Garnish with additional dill.

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Roasted Chicken With Moroccan Spices, Cheesy Orzo and Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots and Walnuts

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If you’re craving a home-cooked meal, this one will hit the spot. It’s homey and comforting, but with an interesting twist — Moroccan spices on the chicken, with a little sweetness and a little spice, classic green beans but with shallots and walnuts to dress it up, and the orzo is pasta transformed into pure homey, cheesy goodness.

The chicken and green beans are recipes courtesy of Tyler Florence, and the orzo is Rachael Ray. This delicious orzo is a recipe I’ve been coming back to again and again. And if you know how I cook, that’s unusual. I love trying new recipes, so it’s not often that I’ll choose to revisit something I’ve tried. But this orzo is just too good. It’s easy, quick and the end result is creamy and delicious — with great garlic and onion flavor and the tanginess of fresh Parmigiano. I admit this is best fresh off the stove, but it doesn’t stop me from eating the leftovers, either. It’s the perfect go-to side for whatever meal you’re cooking.

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The green beans are pretty amazing too. They’re fresh and crisp, with some acidity from the lemon juice, great savory flavor from the mild shallots and crunchy nuttiness from the walnuts. Plus the finish of the fresh parsley…this is one of those vegetable dishes I could eat for a main course. It’s that good.

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And don’t forget the chicken. I love a great roasted chicken — it makes your house smell delicious, it’s warm and comforting, and the leftovers are fantastic. This one uses some great spices and you will love it.

TW’s Tips

  • Make sure you have a coffee or spice grinder for the chicken spices — otherwise, use already ground spices. It won’t be as potent and flavorful, but grinding spices otherwise is impossible.
  • Eat the chicken skin. Trust me.
  • Don’t overcook the beans. Test them with a sharp knife or fork and keep them nice and crisp.

Roasted Chicken With Moroccan Spices

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, about 3-4 pounds
  • 1 cinnamon stick, chopped in pieces
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse chicken with cool water, inside and out – then pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the cinnamon stick, cloves, cayenne, cumin, fennel, coriander and paprika in a dry skillet over low heat and toast for a minute – just to release the fragrant oils – shake pan so spices don’t scorch. In a clean coffee grinder, grind the toasted spices together with the sea salt and brown sugar.

Massage the chicken skin with the spice rub, making sure you don’t miss any spots.
Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff the lemon halves, cilantro and garlic into the cavity of the chicken. Place the chicken into a roasting pan, fitted with a rack, and fold the wing tips under the chicken and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Drizzle oil all over chicken. If you have the time, let the chicken sit for 30 minutes to really let the flavors meld into the chicken.

Roast the chicken for one hour, then check with an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh – if it reads 160 degrees F, then it’s done! Take the chicken out of the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before carving – so the juices can settle back into the meat. Squeeze the lemon halves that have cooked inside the chicken over the meat for added wow.

Cheesy Orzo

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans (14 ounces) chicken or vegetable broth or stock
  • 2 cups orzo pasta (enriched rice may be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano or Romano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat a 8 inch pot with a tight fitting cover over moderate heat. Add oil, onion and garlic and saute for 2 or 3 minutes. Add broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in orzo and return broth to a boil. Cover pot and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until liquid is absorbed and pasta tender. Remove lid and stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. You favorite fresh herbs may also be stirred into the orzo or rice to strengthen the flavor even more.

Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots and Walnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green beans — trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots — sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 dash sea salt
  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley — chopped

Directions

Bring a pot of water to boil, blanch the green beans for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Put a skillet over medium heat and add oil. Saute shallots for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften and get some color. Add the walnuts and cook for 3 more minutes, tossing frequently.

Add the green beans, season with salt and pepper. Toss together and add lemon juice and parsley.

Kale and Couscous (or Orzo) with Green Garlic Dressing

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While housesitting for my friends a few weeks ago, I took advantage of their awesome vegetable garden to make a few dishes using fresh kale snipped right off the plant. I’m awfully jealous of anyone with a vegetable garden these days — I recently read Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and I love the idea of growing and eating your own produce and eating “in season” instead of buying something subpar from the grocery store. In fact, when my parents were visiting, we bought four little herb plants so I could attempt to have at least that on hand — cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, rosemary and basil. The cilantro is thriving…we’ll see if I kill everything else. 🙂

So, there was no way I was letting this opportunity pass me by when I had a garden at my fingertips and an open invitation from my friends to pick and eat whatever I wanted. I found this great recipe for kale and couscous with green garlic dressing on the Naturally Ella blog, and it was a perfect fit for my list of ingredients. And while I love Israeli couscous, I switched it up for orzo in my version since I had some on hand in the pantry.

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The flavors in this dish are really fresh and light, with tang from the feta, crunch from the kale and nice acidity from the dressing (I used scallions since I didn’t have green garlic). It’s vegetarian, but it doesn’t feel like it since the chickpeas add a nice meaty texture.

TW’s Tips

  • If you don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand, any will do (white wine, red wine, sherry, etc.)
  • Sub out the couscous for your small pasta/grain of choice — regular couscous, noodles, etc.
  • Buy kale fresh from the farmers market or steal from your friend’s garden

Kale and Couscous (or Orzo) with Green Garlic Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup kale, de-stemmed and shredded
  • ½ cup Israeli couscous, uncooked
  • ½ cup chickpeas (drained, if using canned)
  • ¼ cup feta

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons green garlic (or ¼ cup green onions)

Instructions
Place couscous in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook until couscous is tender, 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
While couscous is cooking, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, and minced garlic. (You can also whiz the green garlic in the food processor and then add the other dressing ingredients.)

Once couscous is done cooking, toss with kale. Let sit until kale is slightly wilted. Add in dressing, feta and chickpeas. Toss all together and serve. If you want it warm, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add in chickpeas, cooking for 1-2 minutes until heated through. Add in kale and cook until slightly wilted. Toss with couscous and dressing.