In this Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo Recipe, chicken thighs are roasted with wedges of lemon, before adding garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, orzo pasta and chicken stock to the roasting dish. After 10 minutes in the oven, we’re finishing it off with spinach, basil and lemon juice for a fresh and fragrant one-pan dinner that you definitely need to add to your weeknight dinner rotation!
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- Why You Should Make This Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo Recipe
- Ingredients and Substitutions
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to store Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo leftovers
- How to freeze Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo
- How to reheat Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo
- Is Chicken with Orzo gluten-free?
- What to serve with Mediterranean Chicken Orzo?
- What can I use as a substitute for orzo?
- Does orzo need to be rinsed?
- Watch the Video
- You May Also Like…
- Mediterranean Chicken and Orzo Bake Recipe
Can you ever really have one too many one-pan, chicken dinner recipes?! I hope you said no because that’s what I’m bringing you right now: Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo.
This recipe ticks a whole lot of boxes. For starters it is DELICIOUS. Second, it’s all cooked in one pan so washing up time is drastically reduced AND it can be all done in under an hour. I told you, it ticks all those boxes!
To get this chicken and orzo recipe started we’re roasting chicken thighs with wedges of lemon. This caramelises the lemon and adds a citrusy flavour to all those chicken juices. Then we add a
little lot of garlic to the tray along with the sundried tomatoes, orzo and chicken stock. The orzo soaks up all of those yummy flavours until it’s soft and plump – you’re left with creamy orzo that’s similar in texture to risotto (if I hadn’t got your attention before I bet I have now huh?)
To finish we’re throwing in a big handful of fragrant basil and lots of spinach. The result? Savoury umami flavours from the chicken and orzo, fresh and fragrant flavours from the lemon and basil, a little sweetness from the sun-dried tomatoes, and then lots of garlicky goodness to bring it all together. It really is just *chef’s kiss*.
And like I said, all of that happens in one humble roasting tin. No need to juggle countless pots on the stove – it’s all happening in the oven so you could pop your feet up with a little glass of wine if you felt so inclined.
Mediterranean chicken with orzo is an ideal weeknight dinner for those nights when cooking feels like a lot – which can be most nights when you’ve been busy at work all day. I feel you, I promise. Thankfully when it comes to prep the most you’ve got to do is chop a handful of ingredients. Before you know it (like, in less than an hour) you’ll have a delicious Mediterranean chicken traybake situation in front of you ready to be dished up with a little side salad, if you fancy.
And, to top it off, any leftovers are perfect served up the next day for lunches! It’s the dinner that keeps on giving 😘
Why You Should Make This Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo Recipe
- Did I mention that it’s all cooked in one-pan? It’s all cooked in one-pan. WINNER.
- Minimal prep time – a little bit of chopping here and there, maybe throw those garlic coves into a garlic press et voila – prepped.
- All those delicious mediterranean flavours! We’ve got sweet from those tomatoes, sour from the lemon, salty from the chicken stock (and the, y’know, salt) and umami from the chicken. Plus that fragrant basil, and of course the garlic. This recipe HAS. IT. ALL.
- It can be ready in under an hour! Around 40 minutes if we’re being exact about it.
- Any leftovers are perfect for packed lunches the next day – you can eat this chicken and orzo hot or cold!
- Plus the recipe has only 10 ingredients. Simplicity at its finest!
In this recipe, we’re using chicken thighs with skin which increases the saturated fat content. While we do need a little bit of fat in our diets (fat helps us absorb some essential vitamins and is also a source of energy) too much saturated fat can increase our risk of cardiovascular disease. So if you wanted to reduce the fat content in this recipe, remove the skin from the chicken and stick to cooking with olive oil which is higher in healthy monounsaturated fats.
While chicken thighs might be higher in fat, they are also packed with a number of other nutrients that are essential for good health, including niacin, phosphorus, vitamin B6 and riboflavin. Niacin is a coenzyme that helps to release energy from food. Phosphorus also helps release energy from food and helps build healthy teeth and bones. Vitamin B6 helps make red blood cells and metabolise protein, carbohydrates and fat while riboflavin is important for keeping skin, eyes and the nervous system healthy and releasing energy from food.
Chicken is also a fantastic source of protein. It is known as a complete protein as it contains all the amino acids (protein building blocks) needed to make new protein in the body (win!). Protein makes up everything from our organs and muscles to our red blood cells and enzymes, so it’s important we get enough in our diet.
The spinach and basil in this recipe also give us a big dose of vitamin K which is needed for healthy blood clotting and helps keep bones healthy.
Orzo pasta provides us with carbohydrates, which are essential for energy, and some fibre which is important for a healthy gut. It should be noted that the pasta used in this recipe is refined meaning it has less fibre and nutrients than the whole grain alternative. You can always use whole grain pasta if you prefer.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Chicken Thighs – I’ve used chicken thighs with the skin on as you’re getting extra flavour from the skin and the darker meat, but you can use skinless thighs if you want to cut down on fat content. I’ve also used bone-in thighs. You could use boneless thighs but you would need to reduce the cooking time to stop them overcooking. You could also use chicken breast but again would need to reduce the cooking time in the first step from 20 minutes to 10 minutes.
Lemon – Some of the lemon is roasted with the chicken thighs to give us a lovely caramelised citrus flavour throughout the dish. We’re also finishing it with a squeeze of lemon juice for extra freshness. If you were desperate, you could substitute the lemon for lime, but lemon compliments the other elements of the dish best.
Garlic – this recipe uses three garlic cloves because we really want to taste all that garlicky goodness! If you don’t have fresh garlic you could use about ½ a teaspoon of dried garlic powder or flakes to still get that garlicky taste.
Orzo Pasta – I absolutely love orzo pasta. The small grains absorb whatever you cook them with and you’re left with almost a risotto-like consistency. Delicious! If you need a substitute stick to smaller shapes like macaroni. I’ve also used refined pasta in this recipe but if you wanted to use wholegrain, make sure to adjust your cooking time and add a splash of extra cooking liquid.
Sun-Dried Tomatoes – Because sundried tomatoes have less water content their flavour is more intense. If you don’t have sundried tomatoes, sun-blushed tomatoes would also work. Alternatively, if you can only get fresh tomatoes roast them separately and stir them in at the end.
Chicken Stock – Chicken stock adds lots of umami goodness to that orzo pasta, but vegetable stock would work just as well. You could also use water if that’s what you’ve got, just make sure to season it with a good pinch of salt!
Spinach – Spinach wilts perfectly in amongst the pasta and sun-dried tomatoes to give us a boost of greens. If you need to substitute, both rocket and watercress will wilt into the pasta, although both will add a more peppery flavour. You could also use kale, which has a more mild flavour but would need to be added to the roasting tin in the last few minutes of cooking to make sure it cooks through.
Basil – Basil adds a delicate floral flavour to the final dish and pairs perfectly without lemon and sundried tomatoes. If you can’t get ahold of any basil try substituting with oregano for a similarly floral flavour or parsley for a fresher flavour.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to store Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo leftovers
Allow the chicken and orzo to cool to room temperature. Pull the chicken off the bone, discard the bone, then store in Tupperware containers, in the fridge for 2-3 days.
How to freeze Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo
Store the recipe as instructed above, then transfer the container into the freezer for up to 3 months.
To thaw, remove the container from the freezer and transfer it to the fridge to thaw over 24 hours. Alternatively, you could use the defrost setting on your microwave.
How to reheat Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo
Transfer the chicken and orzo into a saucepan with a splash of water. Heat the food on a medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until it is piping hot all the way through. Add more water if it begins to dry up.
Alternatively, you can reheat the food in the microwave. Transfer the orzo and chicken to a microwave-safe container and cook on a high heat for approximately 3 minutes until the bake is piping hot all the way through. Cooking time will vary depending on the strength of your microwave.
Is Chicken with Orzo gluten-free?
This particular Chicken with Orzo recipe is not gluten-free however you could easily swap the orzo pasta for a gluten-free pasta alternative. Check the cooking instructions of the packaging as you may need to alter the cooking times to suit.
What to serve with Mediterranean Chicken Orzo?
This Mediterranean chicken and orzo recipe can be served just as it is, although you could add a side salad or a serving of greens if you wanted to go that bit further!
What can I use as a substitute for orzo?
Smaller pasta shapes will work best in this recipe, think something like macaroni or ditalini. You could use larger shapes like penne or farfalle, however, you would get a slightly different texture and you may need to add a little more stock and extend the cooking time slightly.
Does orzo need to be rinsed?
Orzo does not need to be rinsed and can be added straight into any recipe.
Watch the Video
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Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo Recipe
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One-pan Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo! Crispy roasted chicken thighs are cooked with lemon, garlic, orzo, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and basil for a super easy and tasty dinner.
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 4 chicken thighs, skin on and bone-in
- Salt & pepper
- 1/2 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 250 grams orzo pasta
- 10 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
- 500 millilitres chicken stock
- 100 grams spinach
- 10 grams basil, chopped
- Juice of half a lemon
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
- Add your chicken thighs to the roasting dish with the lemon wedges, a drizzle of oil and salt and pepper. Give everything a mix then place it in the oven for 20 minutes, basting halfway through.
- Once the chicken skin has begun to brown and crisp up, remove the roasting dish from the oven and transfer the chicken thighs to a plate.
- Add the garlic, orzo, sundried tomatoes and chicken stock to the roasting dish and then give everything a good stir. Then place the chicken thighs back into the roasting dish.
- Cook in the oven for 10 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the orzo is cooked through.
- Remove the tray from the oven and transfer the chicken thighs from the roasting dish to a plate. Stir the spinach and basil into the orzo then leave it for a few moments while the residual heat wilts the spinach. (Optional: Pull the chicken meat from the bones while you wait for the spinach to wilt.)
- To finish, squeeze the lemon juice over the orzo, have a taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Add the chicken thighs back to the pan then serve and enjoy!
- A note on chicken thighs and portions – if you’re using smaller chicken thighs (like the one’s I’ve used in this recipe) then two is probably enough for one person. However, larger chicken thighs can sometimes be big enough that one is enough for one person. Bear this in mind when shopping and trust your appetite!
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