A fantastic recipe to add to your mid week meal rotation, a complete meal made in one pot, on the table in 15 minutes. A creamy, parmesan sauce (made without cream!) and with plenty of vegetables, this is just like risotto, except it won’t take you 45 minutes to make. The kids are sure to love this – as do the grown ups!
I have to admit, I do not approve of the “one pot pasta” phenomenon. I tried it once and the plain fact is that if you cook the pasta in the same liquid that reduces down to become the sauce, it is going to be starchy. And for tomato based pastas, it’s just not very nice – the sauce is kind of sticky and gluggy which is just wrong. Or maybe I just used the wrong recipe (I’m not going to name my source….).
But…..orzo (risoni) is another story. It cooks faster because they are smaller, and when made in a creamy based sauce (but with no cream!), the starch actually acts as a thickening agent and it is as though it is supposed to be part of the sauce, rather than a compromise for the convenience of being a one pot meal.
Orzo is a rice shaped pasta so this is practically a risotto, but it only takes 15 minutes to make instead of 45 minutes which is why, besides being so delicious, this is a regular for my mid-week meal rotation. This recipe has a lot of vegetables in it which makes it a complete one-pot meal. Feel free to change the vegetables up with whatever you have on hand. I love the creamy cheesiness of the sauce which is made without cream.
This recipe makes enough for 3 normal size servings, or 2 very hungry people. Leftovers are perfect for making Muffin Tin Spaghetti Nests which kids absolutely adore. So this is a “must pop” into your RecipeTin app!
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup onion, diced
- ¾ cup carrot, diced
- ¾ cup red bell pepper (capsicum), diced
- 2 cups roughly chopped spinach (lightly packed)
- ¼ cup frozen peas
- 7oz / 200g chicken thigh or breast, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 cup orzo / risoni
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1½ cups milk
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (stock)
- ¾ cup parmesan (grated)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Boiled water
- Place the oil and mince the garlic straight into a large non stick pan that has a lid. Make sure the pan is reasonably deep - around 5cm / 2.5" or more. Otherwise, use a large pot.
- Place pan on high heat. Stir the garlic to infuse the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and carrot and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
- Add the bell pepper (capsicum) and chicken and cook until the chicken is white all over (it should still be pink inside) - about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the milk, stock, orzo (risoni) and flour, put lid on then bring to boil, then turn down to medium.
- Cook at rapid simmer, stirring once or twice, for 5 minutes. Keep the boiled water nearby to add in case the liquid evaporates too quickly - this will depend on the size of pan you used, strength of heat you are using etc. If you are not using a non stick pan then you will need to stir more than one or twice, just to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom.
- After 5 minutes there should still be a bit of liquid and the risoni should be soft on the outside but still firm on the inside. There needs to be enough liquid to cook for another couple of minutes - if you are concerned, add a bit more water (don't worry if you add a little too much, it will reduce quickly at the end).
- Add the peas, spinach and parmesan, stir to mix through then put lid back on for another minute.
- Remove lid, adjust seasoning to taste and check to ensure the orzo is cooked. It should be a risotto consistency, not too saucy, but not dry like a pilaf.
- If you added too much water, leave it on the stove for another 30 seconds to a minute and keep stirring - it will cook out pretty quickly.
- Serve immediately.
2. Leftovers are perfect to make Muffin Tin Spaghetti Nests.