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Grilled chicken and orzo salad

(FOOD STYLING/KAROLINE BOEHM GOODNICK; wiqan ang for the boston globe)
July 30, 2008

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Serves 6

In this simple dish, cucumber, tomato, and red onion make a substantial salad with grilled chicken and orzo pasta. They're dressed with a lemon-mustard vinaigrette to brighten the flavors and add a summery taste. Use other vegetable garnishes, such as broccoli florets, carrots, or zucchini, if you like, and steam them until the colors are still vibrant but the vegetables are tender. Pack the salad to take to a party or make it after a long day at the beach. If your guest list suddenly expands, add more orzo and vegetables.

CHICKEN AND ORZO

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar, plus a splash for the orzo
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt, and more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and more to taste
3 chicken breast halves (on the bone)
1 pound orzo pasta
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 English cucumber, unpeeled and thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Pour the marinade into a resealable plastic bag and add the chicken. Seal and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Heat a grill or broiler. Grill or broil the chicken for 8 minutes on a side or until an instant read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast. Remove them from the heat and set aside to cool.

3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orzo for 8 minutes or until it is tender but still has some bite. Drain it into a colander.

4. Tip the orzo into a serving bowl. Add salt, pepper, and a generous splash of vinegar. Stir well.

5. Remove the chicken from the bone, and slice it thinly into 2-inch pieces. Add it to the salad with the tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, and basil.

VINAIGRETTE

2 teaspoons lemon rind
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon rind, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it is all combined. The vinaigrette is lemony but will balance out when combined with the salad ingredients.

2. Sprinkle the salad with the dressing and toss gently. Christine Merlo

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