A quick and easy orzo / risoni pasta recipe for dinner tonight – chicken infused with Italian flavours and a rich tomato basil risoni, all made in one pot! Marinating the chicken is optional – you can skip it by cutting the chicken into thinner steaks. Fill out the veggies and swap the herbs for whatever takes your fancy.
If you have chicken breast in the fridge and risoni in your pantry, you can make this tonight!
I hardly made a “normal” meal during the whole month of December. I was living on leftovers, whether it was food I made for my blog or leftovers from gatherings. Don’t even get me started about the RecipeTin Family Christmas. Those of you who have found me on Instagram may have seen that the RecipeTin Christmas lunch was still going strong at 10pm when the main course was served. Yes, I said LUNCH.
Oi. I had to nap between courses. I’m not even kidding. And there were days and days of leftovers. “You HAVE to take some,” my mother says forcefully. “Everybody has to take their share!” she declares, as she packs up takeaway containers. [Side note: This is the ritual for every family feasting gathering. She gets really cranky that we depart her house leaving her fridge filled with leftovers, half empty bottles and all manner of ingredients we bring to prepare things at her house that SHE then feels obliged to consume for days afterwards. BA HA HA!!!]
Now the 2nd of January has arrived and holiday feasting is officially over. No fridge full of dips and leftover Christmas ham. No mimosas for breakfast. 😭
So it seems fitting to launch 2017 with a great midweek meal, light on washing up, BIG on flavour, and on the table in (just over) 30 minutes.
This risoni pasta recipe is all made in one pot, and it’s not just about saving on washing up. It’s about using all the free flavour you get from searing the chicken in the skillet as the flavour base for the risoni. Did you notice the rich and dark red colour of the tomato coating the risoni pasta? No tomato paste used, just 1 small can of crushed tomato. The richness of the colour and flavour comes from the brown bits stuck on the skillet after the chicken is cooked.
This kind of food is totally me. It’s simple but super tasty (it’s always all about the flavour! 😉 ), fuss free, and quick to prepare. No fancy ingredients to hunt down, and in fact, if you have a basil plant in your garden and chicken in your fridge, chances are you have everything you need to make this right now!
If time permits, marinating the chicken is the best option because if really infuses the chicken with flavour. However, if you are pressed for time, just cut the chicken breast in half horizontally to make two thin steaks. These will cook in half the time it takes to cook a whole chicken breast and you won’t need to marinate. The other way to make this is to cook bite size pieces of chicken WITH the risoni, so I’ve got notes in the recipe for that too.
The chicken in this risoni recipe is really delicious, especially if you marinate it, but I must confess that the star is the risoni! I was watching a Nigella Lawson cooking show recently and she declared this method of cooking risoni in one pot (rather than cooking it separately then adding it into a sauce) to be “all the rage” in Italy at the moment. Now, as regular readers know, I am not about food trends. But I must confess that it feels pretty cool to be doing something that is apparently “all the rage” !!! – Nagi xx
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Italian herb mix (or make your own with basil, parsley, oregano)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ tsp salt + black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 x 110 - 120g/4oz chicken breasts, skinless and boneless (Note 1)
- ½ tbsp olive oil (if required)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (brown, white, yellow)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 red capsicum / bell pepper, chopped
- 1½ cups risoni / orzo pasta (Note 2)
- 400g/14oz can crushed tomato
- 3 cups chicken stock / broth
- 1 tsp Italian herb mix
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (chilli flakes) (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup (3 tbsp) grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1 cup basil leaves
- Mix Marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Add chicken and mix to coat. Marinate for 1 hour - 24 hours (See Note 3 to skip marinating).
- Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm while resting.
- Turn heat up to medium high. Add oil if required.
- Add onion and garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add capsicum and cook for 1 minute or until onion is translucent.
- Add risoni, tomato, chicken stock, Italian herbs, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Mix and bring to simmer, then lower heat to medium low or so it simmers gently.
- Cook for 9 - 10 minutes, stirring frequently (otherwise it will stick).
- Take it off the stove when the risoni is just cooked (touch under is ok, finishes cooking in residual heat very quickly). It should still be saucy (see video).
- Stir through parmesan and basil - excess liquid will evaporate in this step.
- Spoon risoni into serving bowls, top with chicken. Serve with extra parmesan and basil.
2. Risoni / orzo pasta is the rice shaped pasta. You can find it in the pasta section of supermarkets.
3. To skip the marinating, just cut the chicken breast in half horizontally to form two thin steaks, or slice into strips. If the steaks are much thicker than 1cm/2/5" thick, pound to even thickness. Then coat with Marinade and proceed with recipe without marinating (though even 5 minutes of marinating time helps!), but cut down the chicken cook time to 2 - 3 minutes per side. Also see Note 4 below.
4. Cooking chicken with risoni: In this recipe, I cooked whole chicken breast to place on top of the risoni. The other option is to cut the chicken into bite size pieces, marinate briefly. Then heat skillet on high, cook onion and garlic, then add chicken with the capsicum. Cook until outside is browned (inside still raw), turn heat down to medium low, follow recipe to cook risoni. This method is actually faster too - the whole recipe will be done in around 25 minutes.
One Pot Italian Chicken with Risoni Pasta recipe video!
One Pot Italian Chicken with Risoni Pasta nutrition, per serving (4 servings). The serving sizes are very generous!
LIFE OF DOZER
I predict 2017 will be no different to 2016 (and in fact, every other year): Filled with plenty of beach fun, lots of food and way too many cuddles.🐾 This dog has a blessed life!!!