You know you’re onto something amazing when you decide to skip adding the cheese.
That’s right, I was planning to add a good amount of queso to this recipe and once I’d finished making it I realized it was just not necessary. In fact, the flavor was so perfect that I didn’t want the cheese to mess it up by adding cheese to distract from it. I mean, in my house cheese is added to just about anything and everything but this was such a classic case of “why fix what ain’t broke?”.
So the topic of orzo is something of a humorous controversy in my house. Not that it isn’t very popular, but when I served this I kept getting asked to explain the purpose of rice-shaped pasta. If you want to eat rice why not just make rice, you know? Like, who is it for? Obviously if it were the other way around, rice pasta for example, it makes sense because it’s a gluten free alternative, but orzo is a little curious. My argument for it is that it does cook much faster and a little differently than rice. It has it’s purposes, okay!
Besides, it doesn’t have to make sense because this meal is pretty close to perfection. It’s packed with flavor, simple to make, pretty minimal on the ingredients, and I feel like it’s a pretty family-friendly type of meal (meaning the picky kiddos liked it).
Also, a great way to cut the time on this recipe is to have the peppers roasted and cooled ahead of time. I did that for one of my recipe trials and it made things so quick and easy. Another short-cut that I must admit I love to do here is to add leftover grilled or rotisserie chicken. Use those two hacks together and this meal takes all of about 25 minutes.
The key is not to skip roasting the pepper. I realize it might seem like an unnecessary or long step, but trust me, its worth it for the flavor it gives this dish. Oh, and I also have to recommend using homemade chicken stock/broth. Honestly, we haven’t bought packaged chicken broth in years. If I had to say the last time we did buy it I don’t think I could remember. It was probably before I started this blog. Trust me, once you’ve tasted the difference, it’s really hard to go back to buying it over making yourself.
I’ve served it as both a main dish and a side dish. Actually, If you’d like to make it vegan all you need to do is replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock and either replace the meat or skip it. I can’t wait to hear what you think when the smell of this deliciousness is floating through your kitchen!
Roasted red peppers bring all the flavor to this simple one-skillet dish. Serve it as a side dish or make it a meal.
- 1 pound uncooked orzo pasta
- 4 large bell peppers (I used red, but any color works well)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound uncooked chicken breast
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 4 cups chicken broth
- fresh chives, chopped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degree F (200 C) and line a tray with foil. Lay the pepper evenly on the tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil then place in the oven to bake for 25-35 minutes until they start to wrinkle and get brown spots. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes.
- Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat and cook the pieces of chicken on each side for about 4 minutes or until fully cooked inside. Remove from pan to a plate and, once the peppers have cooled, place them in the blender along with the garlic cloves. Blend until completely smooth then add the mixture, along with 1 tablespoon oil, the onions, paprika, and the thyme to the skillet. Stir over heat for 7-8 minutes until it cooks down a bit and starts to thicken.
- Reduce heat to low and add the chicken stock and orzo. Cover pan and simmer until thickend, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once all the liquid is absorbed, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and add it to the skillet along with the salt and pepper. Stir over heat until warmed through, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the thyme sprig and serve immediately topped with fresh chives.