This dish is one of those meals you can throw together of an evening and spend a few absent-minded minutes stirring and looking moonily at your handsome neighbour over the road. Orzo is easy to find in supermarkets, though not if you’re me: I spent a good half hour swearing at the shelves and sweating before I realised that orzo isn’t rice but pasta – some kindly soul in winceyette shuffled me down the aisle a bit and I’ve never looked back. If you do struggle though, don’t hesitate to swap it out for whatever tiny pasta you can find. We shan’t judge.
We get asked a lot via the blog what we make when we just ‘can’t be bothered’ and honestly, that feeling occurs so much more often than you might think. Finding recipes and trying new things will always be exciting, but sometimes you just need a meal you know will work, that tastes good and requires minimal effort. This is one of those.
If you have any leftover orzo and chicken, shred the chicken down, mix with the leftover orzo and leave to dry out a little in the fridge overnight. Then the next day, form them into ‘burgers’ and gently fry them off – absolutely fantastic with some sour cream.
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons onion granules
2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
6 boneless chicken thighs
300g (10 ½ oz/1 1/2 cups) orzo
½ teaspoon dried thyme
750ml (26fl oz/3 ¼ cups) chicken stock
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
150g (5oz/1 cup) peas, cooked and drained (see note)
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7 and line a large baking tray with tin foil.
2 Mix together half the crushed garlic cloves, the onion granules, mixed herbs, black pepper and paprika, and rub this mix over the chicken thighs. Place on the lined baking tray and cook in the oven for 40 minutes.
3 Meanwhile, heat a large pan over a medium heat and spray with a bit of oil. Add the orzo and cook for 45–60 seconds, stirring continuously.
4 Add the rest of the crushed garlic cloves to the pan with the thyme and stir well, then stir in the chicken stock a little at a time.
5 Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 8–10 minutes, until the orzo is cooked.
6 Remove the lid, add the lemon zest, juice and peas, and stir well.
7 Serve the chicken with the orzo.
Notes from Paul
• You can use chicken breasts instead of thighs if you prefer.
• Frozen peas will work fine in this – just whack them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so to thaw them a bit before chucking them in.
• Orzo is pasta, but looks like rice – you’ll find it in most supermarkets
Extract from Twochubbycubs The Cookbook: 100 Tried and Tested Slimming Recipes, published by Hodder and Stoughton.