Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad. Grilled cajun chicken tossed together with a creamy, homemade thousand island dressing, fresh romaine lettuce, roasted peppers, and creamy avocado. This orzo is simple to toss together, super flavorful, filling, and pretty healthy too. Enjoy this for dinner and save the leftovers for lunch. Or serve this up at your next backyard dinner with friends.
Tis the season for orzo salads, pesto chicken, and lighter, but still delicious, quick and easy recipes. And I am in love with this one. It’s funny because this recipe originally started out as a chicken club sandwich. Yep, not even close to a salad.
I was really struggling with the club sandwich recipe, so after two full days, I decided I wanted to switch gears. But I loved loved the flavors of the club sandwich.
I ended up taking the spicy cajun chicken and creamy dressing from the sandwich and using both within this fresh orzo salad. And it turned out so much better than I could have imagined.
I know the sound of a thousand island dressing tossed in an orzo salad may sound off. My mom wasn’t sure about it either. But you have to trust me. This is a homemade dressing, so that makes a big difference. And I think it’s what makes this orzo salad so special and delicious.
There’s also spicy grilled cajun chicken, lots of cheddar cheese, pesto, and avocado.
Here are the details
When making this, I usually begin with the cajun. I toss the chicken with my cajun seasoning blend, then olive oil and sea salt. Just 3 ingredients, but using cajun seasoning is the key. It’s a blend of smoky, spicy spices, smoked paprika, chili powder, oregano, thyme, and cayenne. And then I always include onion and garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
One of my favorite seasoning blends!
Toss the chicken with the seasoning, then grill. You can cook this in the oven as well.
While the chicken cooks, I mix the dressing. You can use a store-bought thousand island dressing. But I have to say, I do think the homemade dressing is with the extra effort.
Plus, it’s really not much effort. Just mayo, ketchup, lemon, hot sauce, chopped-up pickles (the key), paprika, salt, and pepper. Nothing fancy at all, but it’s creamy, tangy, perfection.
For the salad, I toss cooked orzo pasta with basil pesto, then every other ingredient is added directly to the orzo. Roasted bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, cubes of cheddar cheese, lettuce, and then I throw the avocado and extra dressing right on top.
You can eat this warm or at room temperature, but I prefer warm. The dressing really sinks into every nook and cranny of this orzo salad. We all loved it, it’s so yummy!
This is one of those recipes that you’ll crave time and time again.
Looking for other quick dinners? Here are some favorites:
Pesto Chicken Tzatziki Salad Wraps
Pesto Chicken Caesar Salad with Tomatoes and Burrata
Lemon Parmesan Salmon with Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad
Tropical Jerk Grilled Chicken with Charred Mango Salsa Verde
Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad
Lastly, if you make this Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Pesto Chicken Avocado Orzo Salad
Calories Per Serving: 594 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
- 1. In a bowl, toss the chicken with olive oil and cajun seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. Set your grill, grill pan, or skillet to medium-high heat. Grill the chicken until lightly charred and cooked through, turning halfway through cooking, about 10 to 12 minutes. 2. To make the dressing. Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and whisk. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the orzo until al dente, according to package directions. Drain. Add the orzo to a bowl and toss with the pesto. Add the lettuce and 1/3 of the thousand island dressing. Mix in the chicken, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and cheese. 4. Top the pasta with avocado. Drizzle with more dressing. Serve warm or cold.
Homemade Cajun Seasoning: mix 2 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon black pepper. Makes 3/4 cup.