Appetizers, What's New on Lulu's Table?

Orzo Salad

bowl of orzo salad on white wooden table

 

Looking back…I’m pretty sure that I grew up on this stuff.  Well this, cheese, and chicken taquitos.  

I have to sing my mom’s praise here though, because not only did she get my sister and I hooked on this as kids, but she would make my roommates and I a big batch whenever she came to visit me at college!  I would literally have to fight off my friends in order to get more than one serving (yes I am talking to you Jesse).

 

orzo salad on white wood table

 

So needless to say, this dish makes a regular appearance here at the Corna household.  Especially during warm weather months when there is fresh basil galore!

Not going to lie…this is one of my all time favorite dishes to make AND eat (more-so eat).  Here’s why I love this Orzo salad…

  1. it’s healthy
  2. all the veggies make it fun and colorful, with a ton of flavor
  3. it’s super simple to make
  4. it’s light, but you feel like you’re eating substance (which is especially nice for tailgating)
  5. won’t make you have to unbutton your jeans

I make my own vinaigrette that I mix in before serving, and I love using Banza Rice to make this a healthier gluten free orzo salad!  One bag of Banza Rice, mixed with all the veggies, will be enough for 4-6 people…but I would definitely recommend erring on the side of overdoing it because the leftovers are just as good!

 

orzo salad with wooden spoon and balsamic dressing

 

This is typically my go-to when we are headed to a friend’s house, or I need something quick to make for last minute house guests.  It’s always a crowd pleaser and the best part is that you have the ability to craft it the way you like!  Add in whatever veggies you think sound yummy, or add rotisserie chicken to make this a main meal instead of a side dish.

Tip for adding more color: use different colored bell peppers!  One bell pepper is only required for each batch, so I like to use half an orange, and half a yellow pepper to add more color.

Can’t find Banza Rice at your local store?  Click below to get a couple bags sent to your home!  The plain Banza Rice goes quickly, but there is a tri-color rice that is just as delicious!  Check which ones are in stock through the link below…

 

 

bowl of orzo salad on white wood table

 

 

Orzo Salad

A healthy Orzo Salad filled with fresh veggies, basil, feta cheese, and homemade vinaigarette. Vegetarian and gluten free appetizer.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: basil, feta, gluten free, healthy, orzo, salad
Servings: 4 people
Author: Lulu's Table

Ingredients

  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion diced
  • 1 cup asparagus chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 1 8 oz bag Banza Rice cooked
  • 4 oz feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup almond slices

Balsamic Vinegairette

  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper each
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  • Cook Banza Rice according to package instructions, rinse, and set in a large mixing bowl.
  • Blanch asparagus by cooking in boiling water for 1 min. Remove, rinse, and add to rice mixture.
  • Chop remaining veggies and mix in with rice. Stir in feta cheese and almond slices.
  • Mix together all ingredients for dressing and then stir into orzo salad right before serving.
Meat

Buffalo Chicken Boats

sweet potatoes stuffed with buffalo chicken and topped with scallions, celery, feta, and avocado

 

I don’t think there is anything more satisfying to a mid-westerner than a big ‘ole plate with some form of BUFFALO CHICKEN on it.  I may be east coast born and raised, but butter my buns and call me a biscuit, because the mid west is doin something right with this buffalo chicken lifestyle and I am down with the get down.

Make it a dip, eat it with chips, fry it up between two buns, slap it on a pizza, cook it up healthy…wait whaaaaaaat?  Buffalo chicken can be HEALTHY?!

Pay attention people, because this means you can eat buffalo chicken without the subsequent guilt trip…so who’s with me?!

 

shredded buffalo chicken in baked sweet potato with Frank's red hot bottle

 

Not only do you get buffalo chicken for dinner, but you get it in a sweet potato boat to boot!  This is probably the closest one gets to heaven on earth…with a side of lean protein, healthy carbs, and good fats!  

Cooking the chicken and sweet potato take some time, but assembly is very very quick and simple, which means you have time to catch up on other things while dinner is cooking!  

Like catching up of your Modern Family episodes, or re-watching season 5 of Friends when Monica and Chandler are in the throws of a seriously heated, yet secretive relationship, and nobody knows but Joey who hates keeping secrets, and then Phoebe finds out because Ross buys naked guy’s apartment, and…well, you’ll just have to re-watch it because this dinner is SO DARN EASY to make that you’ll have extra time!

 

baked sweet potato with middle scooped out, stuffed with shredded buffalo chicken and topped with scallions, celery, and avocado

 

Start by taking chicken breasts and placing them in a slow cooker.  Add Frank’s Red Hot, ghee (or grass-fed butter), garlic, broth, and let it cook on high for 3 hours or low for 7-8 while at work.  Once you’re chicken is done cooking, you’ll shred it directly in the slow cooker and then fork it out into your sweet potato boats before chowing down!

Sweet potato prep just requires the spud to be cut in half, drizzled with oil, and baked in tin foil for 60 min.  Once finished cooking, scoop out the middle of your potato, leaving some of the edges for maximum yum-factor.  I took my extra sweet potato that was scooped out and made BBQ Sweet Potato Hummus with it!

 

shredded buffalo chicken inside baked sweet potato, topped with scallions, celery, avocado, and feta cheese

 

Transfer your desired amount of shredded buffalo chicken into your sweet potato boat, and top with all the fixings!  I’m a huge fan of capsizing my boat with extra sauce from the slow cooker, because more red hot = better life.

 

shredded buffalo chicken inside baked sweet potato, topped with scallions, celery, avocado, and feta cheese 

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Buffalo Chicken Boats

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 20 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: buffalo chicken, gluten free, healthy, red hot, slow cooker, sweet potato
Servings: 4 people
Author: Lulu's Table

Ingredients

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

  • 1-1.5 lbs organic chicken breast
  • 2 cloves garlic whole
  • 1/2 cup chicken bone broth
  • 1 cup Frank's Red Hot
  • 2 tbsp ghee or grass-fed butter

Sweet Potato Boats

  • 2 whole sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp avocado oi
  • 1/2 cup scallions chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery chopped
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup feta cheese

Instructions

  • In your slow cooker, add chicken, garlic, bone broth, red hot and ghee.  Cook on high for 3 hours, or low for 7-8 hours.  When finished cooking, take two forks and shred chicken directly in slow cooker.  Stir and cover with lid to keep warm before serving.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Take sweet potatoes and cut in half, long ways.  Drizzle oil over all sides of sweet potato and wrap in foil.  Place foil wrapped potatoes on a baking pan in case there is any dripping.
  • Bake for 60 min.
  • Remove potatoes from oven and let sit in foil for 10 min in order to steam.
  • While potatoes steam, prep toppings.  Chop scallions, scoop out flesh of avocado and cut into thin pieces, and chop celery.
  • After sweet potato is finished steaming, scoop out the inside flesh (leaving skin and a thin layer of flesh on the outside).  You can either use a spoon to remove flesh, or take a sharp knife and cut around the inside edge of the potato. Proceed cutting down the length, then across the width of the potato to create cubes. Pull out cubes with a fork.
  • Fill sweet potato boats with shredded buffalo chicken, top with scallions, celery, avocado, and feta cheese.
Vegetarian Meals

Traditional Greek Salad

two greek salad with oil, balsamic vinegar, and cucumber on the side

 

Rounding out this Mediterranean themed week with my all time favorite greek cuisine…the simple yet flavorful, GREEK SALAD.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, David and I were lucky enough to make a trip to Greece last summer with a few of our friends, and let me tell you, it was a dream come true!

 

friends visiting mykonos town, mykonos greece

(The group in Mykonos Town, Mykonos)

The country is so old, history so rich, and the land is beautiful!  We toured the National Archaeological Museum and Acropolis, met some of the nicest and most accommodating locals, lounged on their sun filled beaches, and indulged in some of the best and freshest food (and drinks)!  

 

having drinks on a rooftop bar overlooking the acropolis is greece

(Enjoying those drinks at a bar overlooking the Acropolis!  Bar: A for Athens Cocktail Bar)

(Walking through the ancient Acropolis of Athens)

If I’m being honest, I always enjoyed Greek Salads here in the U.S., but they weren’t anything I’d obsess over.  So obviously, first day in Greece, I had to try out a traditional Greek Salad from the homeland to see how it compared.  Final verdict?  OH.MAH.GAWD. it was life changing.  And no lie, I ate one every.single.day.

You think one would get tired of eating the same food every day, but that was not the case at all.  It actually had the opposite effect, in that I required a Greek Salad with a side of fresh bread and olive oil, every day in order to survive.  The best way I can explain it is like this…I’m stuck floating out into space, and the Greek Salad is my oxygen filled space suit GIVING ME LIFE.

But I digress…

 

greek salad with block of feta and basil on top

 

Aside from the seriously ripe, home grown tomatoes and cucumbers, the biggest difference in Greek Salads in Greece vs Greek Salads in the U.S. is the FETA CHEESE.  Every place you went to in Greece gave you these big blocks of brine-soaked feta, drizzled with oil and oregano.  This was a GAME CHANGER.

One of my favorite brine-soaked feta blocks is made by Dodoni, an authentic Greek feta imported from the homeland itself!  I get mine at Costco in a big container, so as you can imagine it lasts me a while!  Trader Joe’s also has a good selection of blocked feta, so don’t be afraid to try it out and take the extra step of cutting it up ypurself…its worth it!

 

two greek salad with cucumber on the side and Dodoni blocked feta

 

So as you can imagine, I was determined to recreate this in my own home and I think this recipe is pretty darn close.  The key is to keep it simple.  Use large chunks of veggies, quality EVOO, and a big ol’ block of brine soaked feta for good measure!  Do not underestimate the power of simple, quality ingredients, as evidence by this life giving salad.

 

greek salad with block of feta and dodoni blocked feta container

 

Once you’ve created your masterpiece, sit back, relax…and take a picture to send to you friends telling them you took a last minute trip to Greece!

 

two greek salads with oil and balsamic vinegar on the side

 

Traditional Greek Salad

Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Salad
Keyword: feta, greek, salad, traditional
Servings: 2 people
Author: Lulu's Table

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cucumber cut into large chunks
  • 2 tomatoes cut into large chunks
  • 1/4 cup red onion sliced thinly
  • 1 large block of feta
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 4 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • fresh basil chopped

Instructions

  • Dice cucumber and tomatoes in large chunks and add to bowl.
  • Thinly slice the raw red onion and sprinkle over top of cucumber and tomato mixture.
  • Drizzle oil and vinegar over salad mixture.
  • Cut a large block of feta and lay overtop individual salads.
  • Drizzle a little extra oil over feta and sprinkle whole salad with dried oregano.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped basil.