Chicken and Vegetable Orzo with Sesame Dressing

...and a Goodbye.

I kid!  You're not rid of me so quickly. 

Don't worry, loyal followers, I'm just going on vacation (although I suspect all five of you already knew that).  I'll be back on August 29th refreshed and recharged...and most likely burnt to a crisp...and will be ready to get cooking once again.  I'll do my best to send updates from the beach (totally dependent on wireless availability) and hopefully let you know how my over-ambitious stove-top clambake attempt goes down. 

In the meantime, vacation preparation is fully underway.  And you know what that means.  I'm talking about packing, cleaning, laundry...and an indeterminable amount of lists. 

Let's just say the supply closet at work did NOT have the kind of administrative support I was hoping for, and I may need to ensure our assistant considers my vacation schedule when ordering office supplies in the future.

Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of time this week for full-on dinner preparation in advance of vacation, so I turn to a recipe that involves almost no prep work, and mainly includes pantry staples that I have on hand.  I can't handle another trip to the grocery store right now!!  Ok???? 

Phew, sorry about that.

And if you're like me, in the depths of your pantry somewhere you've got a box of pasta, every condiment in the ever-loving world leftover from "experiments" in the kitchen, and a wealth of garden zucchini.  Not to mention a bunch of other things probably not stored properly and with questionable expiration dates.  But that's a chore for another day.

This recipe is my take on working with what I need to get rid of before going away, but you can use any combination of veggies, fresh herbs, and fun mix-ins you might have (sliced or slivered almonds, dried fruit, etc.)  There are endless pre-vacation/clean-out-your-pantry options for this one.

So pick up a rotisserie chicken on your way home from work, cross dinner off list #3, slap this meal together, and go on vacation already!   (That would be me, not you.)

Chicken and Vegetable Orzo with Sesame Dressing
inspired by Week of Menus, by Joanne Choi
serves 5-6 people

1 lb orzo pasta
1/2 c red onion, chopped
1 c zucchini, chopped
1 c yellow squash, chopped
1 c asparagus, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 c parsley, chopped
1/4 c canola or vegetable oil
1/8 c toasted sesame oil
1/2 c cider vinegar
Zest of 1 orange, plus 2 tbs of the juice
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbs honey
1 tsp ground ginger
2 c rotisserie chicken, diced or shredded
2 tsp sesame seeds (optional, for crunch)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the orzo according to the directions on the box.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat with a few teaspoons of canola oil, and add the onion, zucchini, squash, and asparagus.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute for 7-8 minutes, or until onions are translucent and soft, stirring occasionally, and add in the garlic to cook for the last minute.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oils, vinegar, orange zest, juice, soy sauce, honey, ginger, and additional salt/pepper to taste.  Add the cooked pasta and mix well.  Don't be alarmed by the amount of dressing!  The pasta will absorb most of it and it will be very flavorful.

Mrs. Whisk met an untimely death at the hands of a particularly stressful day not too long ago.  After taking this picture my camera battery also died, followed by my patience, which is why my pictures are limited today!

Add in the chicken, parsley, cooked veggies, and sesame seeds.  This can be served warm or chilled, but I like it at room temperature. 

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