Greek Chicken Pasta Salad
This is so, so pretty, and can be made ahead, which is great when you have a crew of guests.Print
Greek salad is perennially popular, and so is pasta salad, so the two together….well, clearly a good thing. It can be served at room temperature, it’s super portable (picnic!), and it’s the kind of dish that makes people very happy to see all piled up on a platter. Sub in any vegetables that are appealing and/or seasonal. And if you want to use another pasta other than orzo, go right ahead. And leave out the chicken if you want a vegetarian pasta salad.
Marinade and Dressing
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves
- 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse salt, plus more to taste
- 2½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or see the Fork in the Road for a shrimp version)
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 pound orzo
- 1 medium-size zucchini, diced
- 6 scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 block (8 ounces) feta cheese, diced
1. Make the marinade/dressing: Mix together the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, and pepper in a small bowl or
container. Pour half the mixture into a large bowl, container, or sturdy zipper-top plastic bag, and add 1 tablespoon salt. Pour the rest into a small container, and add the fresh oregano and salt. Save this for the dressing.
2. Place the chicken breasts into the marinade container and turn to coat well. Cover or seal the marinade, and marinate in the fridge for 2 to 6 hours.
3. Preheat the grill or the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with nonstick cooking spray.
4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and lightly pat dry with paper towels. Discard any remaining marinade. Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet and grill or broil it until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Let the chicken cool to room temperature, then cut it into small cubes.
5. While the chicken is cooking, cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water.
6. Combine the chicken, orzo, zucchini, scallions, cherry tomatoes, and feta in a large bowl (see Fork in the Road for more add-in options). Pour over the reserved dressing and toss gently to combine.
This can be made ahead and kept in a covered bowl or container in the fridge for up to 3 days. It can be served slightly chilled or at room temperature.
What the Kids Can Do
Pick what ingredients they’d like to see in the salad, pull the fresh oregano leaves off the stems, measure and mix together the marinade/dressing, dice the chicken, zucchini, or feta with an age-appropriate knife, toss the salad.
Fork in the Road
To make this with shrimp: Use 2 to 2½ pounds of medium-size shrimp instead of the chicken, but marinate the shrimp for only 30 minutes to 1 hour. Also, you’ll want to grill or broil the shrimp for only 2 minutes per side. Skewer them before cooking to make flipping them easier.
Want to make both versions of this salad? Divide the marinade mixture and marinate 1¼ pounds of chicken breasts in one half, 1¼ pound of shrimp in the other. Cook them according to the above directions. Mix the salad and the dressing without adding the protein, then divide the salad into two bowls, and add the chicken to one, the shrimp to the other.
For the Salad
Add any of the following, or sub in some of these for the vegetables listed in the main recipe.
½ cup pitted black olives, such as kalamata, halved
1 avocado, diced
1 cup lightly steamed corn kernels
1 cup drained and rinsed canned chickpeas
½ cup minced onion
1 cup diced or chopped artichoke hearts
2 cups lightly steamed broccoli florets
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley