Avgolemono (Egg-Lemon-Chicken Soup) with Orzo

This is by far my favorite mediterranean soup recipe – if I ever see this on a menu, I order it without blinking. If I am ever craving something rich, creamy, tangy, and yet healthy, this is my go-to recipe in the kitchen. The creaminess of this soup comes from the eggs and flavorful chicken broth. It is a light soup, that is decadent at the same time. It can also be made in under 20 minutes, thanks to store-bought rotisserie chicken that is hard to replicate in your every day kitchen! Why waste 30-40 additional minutes cooking or boiling chicken for this recipe when you can buy gorgeous, roasted chicken meat at your local Costco or grocery market? 🙂

My favorite flavor in this soup is the citrus from the lemon juice – it is gorgeous against the meaty, starchy nature of the chicken and orzo. This is truly a one-pot meal that you can always accessorize with toasted bread and/or crackers to complete it. Perfect for that weeknight family meal, or as an appetizer for your worldly weekend dinner spread!

Enjoy! 🙂

Love,
Priyanka

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Yields: 6-8 portions
Ingredients
8 cups chicken stock (or to make vegetarian, use vegetable broth)
3/4 cup orzo pasta (optional)
2-3 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken (already cooked) – depending on how ‘meaty’ you like it (can omit to make vegetarian)
5 eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh dill

Directions

In a large saucepan, bring stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add orzo. Cook uncovered until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Five minutes before pasta is done, add chicken.

Meanwhile, place eggs in mixing bowl. Whisk eggs while adding lemon juice. Stir in zest. Whisking constantly, slowly pour a ladle of the hot stock into the egg mixture to temper (this is to ensure that your eggs don’t curdle – you have to keep whisking constantly so that the room temperature egg mixture does not cook!).

Reduce heat to very low. Then, while whisking the soup in pan, slowly pour in the egg mixture (continue to whisk constantly!). Soup should thicken slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with parsley or fresh dill. Serve hot!

Chicken Salad Sandwich with Herb & Saffron Mayo

The thing I love about rotisserie chicken is that it cuts down my cooking time of most dishes to under 20 minutes. Being a working woman with mouths to feed, it’s almost like a dream come true that I can hopscotch over to the nearest Costco or Safeway and pay anywhere from $4.99 to $6.99 for a whole, fresh bird cooked to beautiful perfection. Not only do I get to do fun things with the meat like make a delicious chicken salad sandwich, but I also reserve the bones and skin to make a robust homemade chicken broth that completely elevates the taste of many of my dishes. I am true believer in not wasting food, and chicken bones are definitely never found in my trash bin unless I’ve simmered the heck out of them over a low flame while making a broth! 🙂

This chicken salad (sandwich) is an ode to the classic lunch box fare. However, the salad is perfect as an appetizer on top of a crostini or even as a picnic lunch with a fresh baguette in hand. Scoop up some of this chicken salad with a cracker if a baguette is nowhere to be found, and you’re sure to please your taste buds even then!

Enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients
1 rotisserie chicken, bones and skin removed
2 stalks of celery, chopped (chop up the leaves too! why waste?)
1 can of pitted olives, drained, rinsed, and halved
1 bell pepper (color of your choice), seeded and chopped into small pieces
1/2 red or white onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup Priyanka’s herb & saffron mayo
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Variation: Add bacon bits or crunchy potato chips to your chicken salad for an additional crunch!
Garnishes to assemble sandwich: avocado, tomato, cheese, fresh spinach

Directions

Remove the meat from the rotisserie chicken, reserving the skin, bones, and dark meat for making your own homemade chicken broth, if desired! Otherwise, discard and place only the boneless meat in a large bowl. Add in the celery, olives, bell pepper, onion, and anywhere from 1/4-1/2 cup of Priyanka’s herb & saffron mayo.

Mixed thoroughly, but gently, until all ingredients are well-incorporated. Taste the salad and adjust seasoning, per your taste. Refrigerate in an air tight container for up to 2 days.

Serve chicken on toasted bread or hamburger bun, accompanied by avocado slices, tomato slices, pepper jack cheese, and fresh spinach. Add some bacon, sriracha hot sauce, or spicy brown mustard for a fun twist! Serve alongside baby carrots, potato chips, or fresh fruit for a complete meal! 🙂

Elegant Arugula and Heirloom Tomato Salad

Who said that we can’t get fancy in our own kitchens? I certainly think that it is a lot of fun to dress up a meal by simply enhancing the presentation. After all, if the eye likes what it sees, then it is more appetizing, and in turn, tastes better to us too!

One of my favorite seasons is heirloom tomato season, and right now, Trader Joe’s has these beautiful mini heirloom tomatoes that are perfect in every way. The blend of colors of these different-colored tomatoes creates such a beautiful salad that is anything other than one-note. The pepperiness of the arugula paired with the earthy cannellini against the sweetness of the tomatoes is delicious. And the crispy toast topped with the tangy, yet creamy goat cheese seals this dish as the perfect start to any meal, fancy or informal!

The flash fried bread (feel free to oven toast for a healthier version!) adds the perfect amount of crispiness and smokiness that I think lends beautifully to this dish.

Try this at home and you don’t regret it! Just don’t forget to serve it immediately after dressing your salad, or you’ll end up with a very soggy (and sad) salad! 🙂

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Yields: 4 individual appetizer portions

Ingredients

4 slices of bread (can be wheat, white, whole-grain, whatever you prefer!)

Topping
1 cup grape, cherry, or small heirloom tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on their size
1.5 cups loosely packed baby arugula
1/4 cup of organic, canned cannellini beans, washed and drained
2-4 tablespoons goat cheese, depending on your taste
2 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive-oil, extra to drizzle if desired
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt, to taste
Variation: Add thinly sliced red onion to the salad mixture for an extra crunch!

Directions

Cut out circles out of the slices of your bread using one of the following: a metal ring mold, the open end of a glass jar (the kind tomato sauces come in at the grocery store), or even an empty metal can (from the cannelloni beans!).

Heat olive oil in a small pan and when the oil is hot, flash fry the circles of bread for about 5 seconds on each side until golden brown. Drain and set aside on a napkin-topped plate to allow it to crisp.

Combine all of the topping ingredients EXCEPT the goat cheese, and toss well to coat.

On your serving plate, place the crisp bread and spread a dollop of goat cheese over it. Top with the salad mixture. If you like cheese a lot, feel free to add another dollop of goat cheese on top of the mixture! Serve immediately and enjoy! 🙂