Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tomato, Avocado, Chickpea & Orzo Salad

When I found this recipe online, I immediately knew it would be great for lunches at the office.  At the house, we stock a bunch of the same lunch size Glad® containers, and anytime we make a big batch of food or have leftovers from dinner, we pack it up in these containers in individual sized portions.  That way, when it comes time in the morning to run out the door to work, we can just grab a container and go.  It's also nice to just always buy the same type and size of container, so that you don't have to always try to find the correct lid.  Somehow said lid is always nowhere to be found once you've already put the food in the container, or is that just me? :)

I usually stash a bag of salad and salad dressing in the office fridge (or I pack up some lettuce from home in another Glad® container), so this orzo salad paired with a more standard side salad makes the perfect lunch.  

I also love that this orzo salad is very enjoyable cold and easily transportable, because on particularly nice days - which we've had a ton of lately! - I can quickly sneak away to a nearby park for lunch, get some sunshine and breathe in the fresh air even if just for a small bit.  It helps make the afternoon much more enjoyable.  Also, since I've eaten a very healthy lunch, I don't get the afternoon food coma, desperately wanting to take a nap.  That is something I used to feel like I needed all the time.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good nap, I just don't like the feeling of having to take one.

I love a salad with a beautiful variety of colors and textures.  It makes eating what you've just created so much more enjoyable. 

Tomato, Avocado, Chickpea & Orzo Salad

Adapted from Love & Lemons
  • 1 large tomato
  • Olive oil
  • Sherry vinegar
  • 1 Clove garlic
  • 1/2 C uncooked orzo (I love tri-color)
  • A few handfuls of arugula
  • 1 - 15oz can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • Pine nuts
  • Feta cheese
  • Salt & pepper (I prefer sea salt)
Chop up your tomato into nice juicy hunks.  Place in a bowl with a few tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of sherry vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.  Crush the garlic (no need to chop - you'll be taking it out later) and place in the bowl.  Give everything a good stir and let marinate while you prepare everything else.

Cook the orzo according to package directions.  Strain and let cool slightly.

Chop up the arugula a bit, add to a bowl with the chickpeas, avocado, lemon juice, chopped basil and parsley, pine nuts and feta.  The original recipe did not call for feta, but I added it later and it was the perfect addition.  I prefer buying a block of feta and then crumbling it myself with a fork - that way I get nice big hunks and it tastes so much fresher to me than pre-crumbled feta.

Resist the longing looks of your adorable doggie - if you can :)

Once your orzo has gotten a few minutes to cool, mix that in with your greens and chickpea mixture.  Fish out the garlic from your tomatoes and discard.  Drain a good bit of the marinade from the tomatoes and finally mix the tomatoes in to your salad.  Voila!

Three pre-packed lunches - done.  It would have been four, but I couldn't resist immediately chowing down a bit :)