Another chockablock pasta salad! Because a pasta salad should be an ensemble production—the pasta should be kind of the leading character, but not hog the spotlight. Pasta salad is just as perenrial, evergreen, un-trendy crowd-pleaser. I am pretty much never sick of them, and from the response I get when I tote one out at an outdoor gathering or a potluck or a buffet-style party no one else is either.
And Greek salad is also perennially popular (and one of the all-time favorite foods in my house), and so the combo of the two together….well, clearly a good thing. Plus, chicken! (Or not if you want to make a vegetarian version of this pasta salad.)
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. While it might start to stray from being classically Greek, you can and should sub in any vegetables that are appealing and/or seasonal. And if you want to use another pasta other than orzo, go right ahead. Again, a little less Greek, but that’s very ok.
Marinade and Dressing:
The dressing is divided int two portions and does double duty as a marinade for the chicken. If you are skipping the chicken, you could just cut the Marinade and Dressing amounts in half.
Pasta Salad Add-Ins:
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
Vegetarian Greek Pasta Salad
Again, leave out the chicken if you want a vegetarian pasta salad. One thing I do sometimes is to serve up a vegetarian version of this orzo salad, and then put out a platter of sliced or cubed cooked chicken on the side for people to add, or not, as they wish.
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.
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.
Other pasta salad choices, great for everyday, great for a party:
- Pasta Salad with Chicken and Chipotle Dressing
- Simple Vegetarian Pasta Salad
- Pasta Salad with Salmon and Creamy Cilantro Dressing
- Perfect End of Summer Pasta Salad
- Pasta Salad with Chicken, Picholine Olives, and Ramp Vinaigrette
- Simplest Tomato, Corn, Basil and Mozzarella Pasta Salad
Greek Chicken Pasta Salad
For the Marinade and Dressing
For the Salad
- 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 pound orzo
- 1 medium-size zucchini diced
- 6 scallions white and green parts, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes quartered
- 1 ½ cups diced feta cheese
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat the grill or the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with nonstick cooking spray.
- 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.
- While the chicken is cooking, cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water.
- Combine the chicken, orzo, zucchini, scallions, cherry tomatoes, and feta in a large bowl (see Note for more add-in options). Pour over the reserved dressing and toss gently to combine.
What the Kids Can DoPick 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.
Note: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
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