This one-skillet dinner brims with Mediterranean goodness. It’s a complete, nutritious meal with chunks of tender chicken, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and whole-grain orzo pasta, all simmered in a lemony garlic-and-rosemary-infused sauce. As a bonus, this recipe comes together in less than 30 minutes with minimal chopping, so it can take the stress out of the dinnertime crunch, something we could all use as we get back in gear post-Labor Day.
The pivotal technique is that rather than boiling and draining the rice-shaped pasta as you typically would, here you cook it in chicken broth with garlic and rosemary in the same skillet in which the chicken was browned. No colander is involved. As the orzo becomes tender, it absorbs the heady flavors and most of the liquid in the pan while releasing its starch into the remaining broth to form a lovely, thickened sauce.
Once the orzo is about halfway cooked, the zucchini is stirred in, and when that is nearly tender, the browned chicken and tomatoes are nestled into the pan along with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice, which brings all the elements together with its tangy brightness.
Served with a sprinkle of fresh parsley, it is sure to be a bright spot in your workweek routine.
Lemon-rosemary chicken and orzo skillet
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1⁄4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 ounces (1 1⁄2 cups) dried whole-grain orzo pasta
1 1⁄2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 1⁄2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth
1 medium zucchini (8 to 9 ounces), cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
1 heaping cup (6 1⁄2 ounces) cherry tomatoes, halved
1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, deep lidded skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken and cook, stirring one or twice, until browned, 2 minutes total. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil and chicken, transferring the chicken to the plate once it has browned.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet, then add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the orzo and rosemary and cook, stirring, until the orzo is well coated with the oil and lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 5 minutes, until the orzo is about halfway cooked.
Stir in the zucchini and cook, covered, until it is just tender, about 3 minutes, then return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet along with the tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the tomatoes soften and the chicken is cooked through. Serve sprinkled with the parsley.
Nutrition: Per serving, based on 4 servings: 490 calories, 41 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 105 mg cholesterol, 550 mg sodium, 10 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar