Make-Ahead Lunch: Mediterranean Orzo

In this house apartment, kitchen space is limited. The eating out budget is even more limited. Having an easy, inexpensive, make-ahead dish that you (or in my case, my husband) can grab-and-go for lunch is a must. Since the dish must appease both 1) my dietitian standards and 2) a hungry boy’s appetite, I have created a few go-to dishes that I turn to regularly that fit the bill. I might love spending time in the kitchen, but not every kitchen experiment of mine meets both of the aforementioned requirements, and constitutes a respectable meal. I admit, I have a knack for creating “snacks,” which the average individual would call a sweet. And smoothies. I love a good fruit and veggie smoothie.

But back to this fabulous vegetarian pasta dish. Orzo is the base. While it may look like rice, it is a pasta. I highlight this as it is not to be confused as gluten free, nor is it to be considered a healthy alternative to pasta, a la my husband’s thoughts. It is pasta, not a healthy pasta alternative. It just looks a little different from your typical fusilli or fettuccine noodles. If you are looking for something slightly more nutritious than regular Italian Orzo pasta, I recommend the Harvest Grains blend from Trader Joe’s. It is a combination of Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. It has more fiber and protein, plus more texture compared to regular orzo. As with all of my recipes, feel free to substitute ingredients with whatever you have on hand to suit your taste preferences, diet, or budget. You can serve this hot, room temperature, or chilled. I think it’s also great over lettuce, or with a side salad. If you’re able to splurge on a little more at the grocery store, add in cooked shrimp or chopped, cooked chicken! I highly recommend making a big batch of this on a Sunday, and you have taken care of your lunch for a week! *Notice the serving size is for six. That’s because this dish also usually serves as dinner the night it is made. I am all about convenience, people.

Enjoy!

Mediterranean Orzo!

Mediterranean Orzo!

Mediterranean Orzo. Serves 6.

Nutrition Facts: 313 Calories, 5.2g Fat, 14g Protein, 54.6g Carbohydrate, 6g Fiber

1 1/2 cups uncooked Italian Orzo
1 cup Mini Pearl Grape Tomatoes, chopped
4 oz Light Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
1 tbsp Olive Oil Extra Virgin
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Cook orzo pasta according to package.
Wash/ drain one can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) to remove sodium.
Chop tomatoes, cucumber, and crumble feta cheese. Add to bowl with chickpeas.
Whisk lemon juice and EVOO together with salt and pepper to taste. Add to cooled orzo pasta.
Combine lightly dressed orzo (this is to keep it from drying out and sticking together in clumps) with vegetables.

Add Garlicky Honey Lemon vinaigrette just before serving (Please note, vinaigrette not included in nutrition facts above).

 

Mediterranean Orzo over Kale

Mediterranean Orzo over Kale

Garlicky Honey Lemon Dressing:

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp White Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine above ingredients, store up to one week in a glass jar. Shake before using. Serve with everything, this stuff is fabulous.

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