This dish was inspired by the desire to make something with orzo. I really like orzo because it is so versatile. It can be served hot, cold, as a salad, a main dish, a soup. It is a great little pasta. Initially I thought this dish would be creamy and have scallops in it, but I had chicken thighs on hand, so I veered a little. Though throughout the meal my mind reinvented this dish a thousand times. Don’t expect that this will be last time you see orzo from me!
This made four servings. Two for dinner and two for lunch tomorrow, but it could be easily doubled.
1 C orzo pasta, uncooked
5 T unsalted butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
zest of one lemon, minced
juice of one lemon
1/4 C reserved pasta cooking liquid
4 oz asparagus
8 crimini mushroom
4 chicken thighs
fresh cracked black pepper
2 T dill, chopped
20 kalamata olives, quartered
6 oz mini fresh mozzarella balls (about 20), quartered
1 green onion, chopped
Boil water and add pasta. Boil until cooked through, testing as it cooks as orzo is a little finicky and you want to make sure the thicker middle section gets cooked. Remove from heat and drain, reserving ¼ C of pasta water to add to the sauce. Set aside.
Heat sauce pan to medium (not medium-high). Add butter; once melted add minced garlic. Sautee until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Do not burn the garlic! Add lemon zest and stir for about one minute more. Add lemon juice and chicken thighs. Before flipping the chicken the first time, after about 8 minutes, generously pepper it (to your flavor preference)…I used about ¼ a tablespoon. Flip the chicken and pepper again and also add about ¼ kosher salt. Mix in mushrooms, asparagus, and reserved pasta water. Cover, increase heat to between medium and medium-high, and let cook for about eight minutes.
Remove chicken and reduce heat to low. Slice meat and add back to pan with dill and olives. Add pasta and mix thoroughly. Cover and let the flavors meld over low heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, remove cover and add scallions and cheese, stir to mix because the cheese is going to melt a little from the heat. Sample for salt and pepper levels, add more as needed. Serve in bowls with some toasted pugliese bread with butter and smoked paprika on it.
Enjoy the carb fest!!