Lemon Chicken Orzo

Posted 23 May 2013 by

Orzo is a relatively new discovery for me. Ok, not the most life-changing of discoveries, just a new shape of pasta. I think it’s wonderful though. Looks like rice, tastes like pasta, and somehow seems much richer and more comforting than other pasta shapes. This recipe for lemon chicken orzo was one of those “what ingredients do I have in the cupboard” type of affairs, and it worked so well. You can easily change the ingredients around, but the key players for me are the lemon, the chicken, the orzo and some kind of cheese. With the freshness of the lemon, and with fresh, seasonal vegetables, this is perfect for summer suppers.

Lemon chicken orzo

It’s so hard to take appetising photos of pasta dishes!

I’ve made this a couple of times now, and it’s so flexible. You can add an onion in with the leeks, add more or less chicken (or omit for a vegetarian option), switch the feta for goat’s cheese etc. Obviously you can use low fat or full fat versions of the cream cheese and crème fraîche; a little Greek yoghurt works well too. Other vegetables like mushrooms or spinach can be added.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 2 chicken breasts, boned and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • ¼ chicken stock cube
  • 225 g (8 oz) orzo
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) peas, fresh or frozen
  • 20 g (0.7 oz) cream cheese
  • 40 g (1.4 oz) crème fraîche
  • 40 g (1.4 oz) Feta cheese
  • 20 g (0.7 oz) Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated

Heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the leeks until tender. Remove the leeks from the pan, and add the chicken. (There should be enough oil left that you don’t need any more, especially if you use a non-stick pan). Fry the chicken pieces until golden brown. It should be cooked through but still moist on the inside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water with ¼ of a stock cube, and the juice of half a lemon to the boil. The stock gives a depth of flavour to the pasta. Obviously if you don’t use cubes, you could add a little stock or broth, but not so much that it overpowers the dish. Cook the orzo until al dente. When the pasta is nearly, but not quite ready, add the peas to the pan.

Put the leeks back into the chicken pan, along with the rest of the lemon juice, lemon zest, cream cheese, crème fraîche and Feta. Stir together and allow to heat through. Drain the orzo and peas, and mix them with the rest of the ingredients. Stir through with the Parmesan, and serve.

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