Friday, April 13, 2012

Chicken with Orzo, Asparagus, and Parmesan

 This tasty meal is a quick cooking dish that will be ready to be put on the table in very short time, as long as you have everything prepped. You have well seasoned chicken breasts, with tender orzo and asparagus that has been flavored with thyme, lemon and Parmesan cheese. It really is a very good weeknight meal for two people. I've made this Chicken with Orzo a couple of times now, so my husband and I both enjoy it The recipe is one of  Cook's Illustrated, and has it's share of touches that are to make this dish more flavorful. After it cooks, you are supposed to mix more oil, lemon zest and garlic and drizzle over the finished dish. I have omitted that step, because fresh garlic doesn't agree with me. I added the extra garlic instead earlier in the cooking. The chicken breasts are dredged in flour and sauteed in the skillet just until brown, and then it is transferred to the oven to finish cooking. This time I omitted coating the chicken with flour, but the chicken didn't have as much flavor, so back to the flour next time.
Chicken with Orzo, Asparagus, and Parmesan
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated  - Serves 2
(Israeli Couscous can be substituted for the orzo, if desired)

1/4 cup flour
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts-about 5 to 6 ounces each
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and black pepper
3/4 cup orzo
3 tablespoons finely diced red onion -Cook's used a diced shallot
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
8 ounces asparagus, tough ends trimmed, and cut into 1 inch lengths
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Place flour in a dish. Pat the chicken breast dry with a paper towel. Season well with salt and black pepper. Dredge the chicken in flour and shake off excess.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a non stick 10 inch skillet, over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a baking pan and place in the oven to finish cooking, about 5-10 minutes.
4. As chicken bakes, add 1 more tablespoon of oil to the skillet along with the orzo.  Toast the orzo until golden about 2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, and lemon zest to the skillet and stir about 30seconds until fragrant.
5. Pour the chicken broth in pan and scape up any brown bits. Stir over low heat for about 4 minutes. Add the asparagus, stir and cover the skillet with a lid. Cook until asparagus is crisp tender and orzo is al dente, 4-6 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Remove pan from heat. Stir the lemon juice and the Parmesan cheese into the orzo. Divide between 2 plates and top with the chicken. Garnish with fresh thyme and lemon zest if desired. Enjoy!


  1. What a great meal. My family would love this one.

  2. We love this combination of flavors, Lynda. I'm so happy to see fresh asparagus coming in and orzo is one of our favorite pastas. Thanks for the tip to toast the orzo.

  3. This looks scrumptious Lynda!

  4. Don't know why we don't use orzo more often. This side looks fabulous, Lynda. And I love asparagus.

  5. As a much bigger fan of pasta than rice, I like to use orzo when possible and you turned yours in to a delicious looking and sounding dish. I'll have to try toasting it.

  6. Looks like a wonderful dish - and I think I'd follow your changes as well.

  7. I have pork chops on the menu tonite, and now I know what we'll have with them... orzo & asparagus. This sounds delicious!


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