Culinary Quest #4 – Greek Chicken Salad

I have always dreamed of being a part of a huge Greek or Italian family.  You know, ten brothers and sisters and so many cousins you can’t name them all. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the point!)  And, I love Greek and Italian food!  Honestly, I think there must be someone in my ancestry who is one or the other, but we’ve yet to discover them.  So to get that big family feel, I love to cook Greek and Italain food.  Today…we’re going Greek!

Below is my version of Dean & Deluca’s salad that is oh so good!  Beware…this is not a quick prep.  It takes a little time, but every minute of labor rewards you with a dense, full-bodied flavor that zings your taste buds.  It’s not difficult at all, just prepping the the veggies takes a little time.

This salad is a hearty meal in itself, and only needs tea and a pita pocket to stuff it into!

The work pays it forward because you get 12 full servings out of this delectable dish!  If you’d like, you can half the ingredients for a smaller portion.  Either way, it’s fresh, healthy and totally savory & delicious.  My teenage son picked this, of all things, for his lunches this week.  Score one for a seasoned palette!

This salad is great to take to a picnic, work or block party.  Enjoy!

Kristi’s Chicken Greek Salad

(yields 12 cups)


4          Chicken breasts; cooked (w/salt & pepper, garlic powder & Italian seasoning), cooled & chopped

1c        Pepperoncini peppers; hulled & chopped

1 med  Red onion; chopped

10 oz    Sun-dried tomatoes; jarred in oil; drained & thinly sliced

3c        Artichoke hearts; drained & chopped

1c        Kalamata olives; pitted & diced

1          Cucumber; peeled, quartered & chopped

1T        Oregano

1c        Italian (a.k.a. flat) parsley; fresh, diced (about 1 bunch)

1          Lemon zest; whole large lemon

1c        Feta; crumbled

Feta vinaigrette (see below)


          Feta Vinaigrette

1/2c    Canola oil

4T        Rice vinegar

2T        Shallots; finely diced

1/8t     Black pepper

1t         Oregano

1t         Thyme

3/4c     Feta; reduced fat; crumbled

1oz       Lemon juice; fresh

2t         Lemon zest; fresh

1/8t     salt

2          garlic cloves; fresh & pressed


Bake seasoned chicken in preheated oven @ 350 for about 20min or until done.  Set aside to cool.

While chicken is cooking, prepare remaining ingredients (except vinaigrette) in a large bowl. (Tip – to hull the pepperoncini, simply pull on the stem and the entire middle should slide right out.)

Once chicken has cooled, dice and add to bowl.

Make vinaigrette and toss everything together.

Cover and marinate several hours or overnight before serving. Can be made a day ahead. Before serving, using a large spoon, stir it well so the vinaigrette is mixed well in the salad.  Serve chilled with pita bread or baguette.

Culinary Quest #3 – Lemon Orzo Salad

Dean & Deluca is one of my all-time favorite eateries.  They have incredible food – good food that’s good for you.  I love to treat my family, friends and myself there, however, I don’t always have the time nor the budget that comes with shopping and eating at this upscale joint (as much as I wish I could!). So, in order to enjoy the same great tastes at home, I began creating my own version of their dishes.

Once I nailed the lemon vinaigrette, I found it is a wonderful base for many dishes.  Sometimes we want a savory dressing without too many herbs because they can easily overpower the salad ingredients. This vinaigrette is light and flavorful, not too strong, and with just the right amount of zest.

Today we’re serving up…

Lemon Orzo Salad

(Serves 8)

16oz       orzo pasta – cooked al dente in salted water *do not overcook *

1             red pepper; finely diced

1/2 -1c   medium red onion; finely diced

1c           spinach leaves or field greens; chopped (measured after chopped)

1 1/2c    feta cheese; cubed

½-3/4c   Kalamata olives; pitted & finely diced (to taste)

Lemon vinaigrette (see below)


While orzo is cooking, make the vinaigrette in a bowl or a bottle with a lid. Mix/shake vinaigrette until sugar is dissolved.

Drain orzo, then while it is hot (this is important!!) toss with the vinaigrette in a mixing bowl so the pasta soaks up the liquid while it cools. (It also avoids the vinaigrette pooling at the bottom of the bowl.) Toss every now and then to make sure liquid is evenly absorbing into the orzo.

Once the orzo has cooled to room temperature, mix in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Toss again before serving.

Lemon Vinaigrette

1/3c   plain rice vinegar

1/2c   fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/3c   canola oil

1/4c   granular sugar

1/2t   salt

Enjoy it as an entree or side dish.  It’s a great way to beat the summer heat! ~ Kristi