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Spinach Orzo Salad with Chicken Meatballs and Chickpeas

An Orzo Spinach Salad perfect for bridging summer into fall, this will have even the meat-eating man in your family smiling.

Spinach Orzo Salad with Chicken Meatballs and Chickpeas | RachelCooks.com

Apparently I’m on an orzo salad kick. I think it is such a fun summer pasta and the perfect size for salads. Plus, just like any other pasta, it is incredibly versatile and you can use whole wheat or traditional, whatever your heart desires.

This salad combines orzo with spinach, chicken meatballs, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), cucumbers, tomato and feta. It’s incredibly filling and refreshing at the same time. The spinach wilts slightly from the heat of the pasta and it creates this wonderful salad – pasta hybrid dish.

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I used regular cucumbers in this recipe even though I almost exclusively buy English cucumbers or the cute little salad cucumbers (typically used for pickles — they have fantastic flavor). Somehow this regular cucumber ended up in my groceries. I don’t know if it was left on the checkout belt from a previous customer or if my ever-so-helpful toddler added it my cart, but it is what I came home with and what I ended up using in this salad. I scraped out the seeds because I find them to be a bit bitter sometimes. You can use whatever type of cucumber you prefer.

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Spinach Orzo Salad with Chicken Meatballs and Chickpeas

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

A Spinach Orzo Salad perfect for bridging summer into fall, this will have even the meat-eating man in your family smiling.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup orzo
  • one 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • one 5-6 ounce container of baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons juice)
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large covered saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat for orzo.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine chicken, egg, parsley, bread crumbs, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. With this mixture, make 24-28 meatballs (about 1-inch in size). Place on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until cooked through (165 degrees).
  3. While they are in the oven, prepare the orzo according to package directions. Drain well and dump into a large bowl. Toss orzo with beans, spinach, and feta.
  4. Prepare dressing in a small bowl by whisking together lemon juice and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Pour over orzo and toss to combine.
  5. Divide salad between four plates. Top with meatballs, sprinkle with cucumber and tomato and serve immediately.

adapted generously from Good Housekeeping Magazine (4/2013)

Verdict: I loved the combination of salad, pasta and meatballs. Will definitely make this one again.
Husband’s take: He loved this salad!
Changes I would make: None are necessary.
Difficulty: Easy!

Want more Orzo Salad recipes?

Orzo Salad with Chicken, Watermelon and Feta
Orzo Salad with Chicken and Vegetables
Greek Orzo Salad with Roasted Shrimp
Cherry Tomato Orzo Salad from Simply Recipes
Mediterranean Orzo Salad from Iowa Girl Eats
Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomato from A Big Mouthful
Whole Wheat Orzo Salad with Kale, Chickpeas, Lemon and Feta from Kalyn’s Kitchen

   

18 Responses to “Spinach Orzo Salad with Chicken Meatballs and Chickpeas”

  1. Tieghan — August 23, 2013 at 9:16 am

    This is gorgeous, Rachel! Perfect transition salad!

    • Rachel Gurk — August 23rd, 2013 @ 9:36 pm

      Thanks Tieghan!

  2. Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray — August 23, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I love the idea of putting baby meatballs in the salad! This looks like a dinner dish I’ll be trying soon (now that it’s not too hot to cook in my kitchen).

    • Rachel Gurk — August 23rd, 2013 @ 9:36 pm

      Thanks Tara! Hope you love it.

  3. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — August 23, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Love the idea of meatballs in a salad! Such a fun twist :)

    • Rachel Gurk — August 23rd, 2013 @ 9:36 pm

      Thanks Rachel!

  4. cassie — August 23, 2013 at 11:13 am

    I love everything about this salad. The meatballs have me salivating. I wish I had some for lunch!

    • Rachel Gurk — August 23rd, 2013 @ 9:36 pm

      Thanks Cassie! Wish we were lunching together.

  5. Kathryn — August 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    What a great way to serve meatballs – such a lovely hearty dish for an autumnal evening.

    • Rachel Gurk — August 23rd, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

      Thanks Kathryn!

  6. cquek — August 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    that is awesome, going to try your recipe.

  7. Zainab @ Blahnik Baker — August 24, 2013 at 12:31 am

    The meatballs are my favorite and will definitely be the selling point for this in my house. Love how fresh the salad is :)

  8. Diane {Created by Diane} — August 24, 2013 at 2:07 am

    I need to make this!

  9. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — August 25, 2013 at 12:28 am

    Such a great idea to add the little meatballs!

  10. Laura Black — August 29, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    I made this recipe the other night. My husband and I are empty-nesters, so we made this an evening meal. It was perfect. Light enough for a summer meal and filling. Thanks for the idea. If you were to do another type of dressing besides the olive oil and lemon juice, what would you suggest? My husband loves dressings on his salad, especially homemade. :)

    • Rachel Gurk — August 30th, 2013 @ 8:36 am

      So glad you liked this salad! The flavors are all pretty light so I think it would be great with many types of homemade dressing. A balsamic vinegar dressing would be yummy.

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