This is a cosy chicken risoni (orzo) that’s a complete one pot meal: risoni in a creamy tomato parmesan sauce with swirls of spinach and pops of nutty chickpeas with juicy pan seared chicken breast, sprinkled liberally with crispy salami bits. Describing the dish is lengthy. The making part is not!
One pan creamy tomato chicken risoni with crispy salami
This dish came into existence because I had a stick of salami left in the fridge and wanted to make a dinner out of it. I did end up going to the grocery store for chicken and baby spinach and risoni, but that’s not the point! *She declares insistently* 😂
The point is that I always feel like salami is an overlooked ingredient in cooking and I wanted to use it in a dinner. If you take the time to think about it (and these are the sort of things I fall asleep dreaming about), it’s got the same characteristics as bacon and chorizo: salty, fries up crispy, and makes everything better. Bonus: it doesn’t spit fiery little bits of fat on your arms when you cook it (I’m glaring at YOU bacon!).
So, today’s recipe started with salami. And ended with a risoni in a creamy tomato-parmesan sauce with spinach and nutty pops of chickpeas stirred through, topped with juicy slices of seasoned chicken.
It’s very cosy, very easy, very delicious, and very much a crowd-pleaser that everybody will love.
What you need for this One Pan Chicken Risoni
Here’s what you need to make today’s chicken risoni.
This combination of spices adds a nice savoury flavour to the chicken as well as giving it a warm red tinge. Don’t worry if you don’t have sage, just leave it out. I know it’s not a pantry staple for most people, though if you’ve made my homemade pork sausage patties you should find it in the dark corners of your pantry. 🙂 (Or homemade Sausage and Egg McMuffins, the pork seasoning mix or chicken burger, for that matter.)
The creamy tomato risoni
The hero ingredient here is the salami which we fry up golden and crispy, then use the fat that renders out to cook the chicken and the risoni sauce. Win, win, win!
Salami – I use a stick of salami so it can be cut into chunky batons. Fries up crispy on the outside with a decent meaty bite to it. Pre-sliced salami will also work but you’ll have a larger volume and they will be crispier, because the slices are thinner. Not a bad thing, and handy because no need to peel the paper off the salami and half the chopping has already been done for you. Substitute with streaky bacon or chorizo. Both have similar frying-up and eating qualities!
Risoni – Also called orzo, small rice-shaped pasta. Find it in the pasta aisle. I like it because it’s small so it cooks quickly, it’s easier to use in one-pot dishes than larger pastas, and there’s no need to rest it after cooking like rice. You’ll need 250g/8oz which is half a standard size 500g/1lb packet. Use the other half for any of these risoni/orzo recipes!
Chickpeas – I added the chickpeas on a whim to add some textural interest and some lovely nutty flavour. It’s also got more nutritional value than risoni pasta (more fibre, protein and it’s low GI) and it takes no effort to crack open a can – so why wouldn’t we? 🙂 Substitute with other beans or just leave them out.
Chicken stock/broth – The risoni cooking liquid, else the sauce and risoni is bland. Vegetable stock works well too. I use store bought, but if you use homemade chicken or vegetable stock, I will beam with pride!
Cream – Just 3/4 of a cup which we stir in at the end for a creamy touch. Because we’re not relying on the cream to thicken the sauce (the starch in the risoni takes care of this for us), feel free to use low fat cream or evaporated milk.
Parmesan – This adds a hit of savoury flavour into the sauce. It doesn’t make it cheesy.
Baby spinach or kale – For stirring in at the end. Our veg quota!
Garlic and onion – Aromatic flavour base.
Here are optional extras to add into the recipe, if you have them. Don’t make a special trip to the store. Explanation below!
I added these in the first time I made this risoni because I had them and they needed using up: a few limp stems of basil, an aging jar of sun dried tomatoes and wine (well, this was always going to be used up – in cooking or otherwise!). Wine for deglazing the pan, sun dried tomatoes stirred into the risoni and basil for sprinkling.
Then the second time, I didn’t have them, and the dish was still super, super delicious.
While there’s no denying that they add even more to the dish, I consider these optional extras. Don’t go out especially to buy them. Just use them if you’ve got them!
How to make this one-pan chicken risoni
Heads up: this is not the first time I have fried up salami in a recipe and it will not be the last! Try it once and I wager you will be hooked too.
Season chicken – Split each chicken breast in half horizontally so you have 4 thin steaks in total. Thinner = cooks through more evenly (no dry outer band). Mix the spice mix together then sprinkle on each side of the chicken.
Crispy salami – Start off by cooking the salami until crispy and golden. This takes about 2 – 3 minutes over medium high heat. Remove into a paper towel lined bowl using a slotted spoon to leave the salami fat in the pan. We’re going to use this to cook the chicken – free flavour!
ℹ️ You need a pan large enough to hold in the liquid to cook the risoni, at least 26cm/10.5″ wide. I use a 30cm/12″ non-stick pan that is 7cm / 2.8″ deep. I have this Pyrolux one (Australian store, not an affiliate link). I especially like it because it comes with a lid.
Sear chicken – In the same pan, cook the chicken for 3 minutes on each side until deep golden and cooked through. The internal temperature should be 67°C/153°F. It will rise to 71°C/160°F after resting. Remove the chicken onto a plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.
Sauté & deglaze – Still in the same pan (one pot cooking, remember!), sauté the onion and garlic. Then deglaze* the pan using the white wine (if using, it’s optional), simmering rapidly until almost evaporated.
*This means dissolving the tasty gold bits left on the base of the pan from searing the chicken and salami into the wine. It’s free flavour and will make our sauce tastier!
Add everything else – Cook off the tomato paste for 1 minute, just to take the raw sour edge off it. Then stir to coat the risoni in the tomato paste, add the stock, chickpeas, salt and pepper.
Cook 8 minutes – Bring to a simmer, then cook for 8 minutes, stirring every minute, until the risoni is just about cooked. At first, the stove should be on medium high so the liquid is simmering. But as the stock is absorbed and the mixture gets thicker, lower the heat to medium so the base doesn’t catch. The mixture should be fairly oozy, but don’t worry if yours is a little thick as the cream will loosen it up.
Cream + wilt spinach – Add the cream, parmesan, sun dried tomatoes (if using) and spinach. Stir until the spinach is wilted. The risoni should still be beautifully oozy.
Serving – Cut the chicken into thick slices. Spoon the risoni into bowls, top with chicken, crispy salami, sprinkle of extra parmesan and basil (if using). Then dig in!
(The alternative option is to serve it help-yourself style on a big platter: risoni topped with chicken, sprinkled with salami, parmesan and basil)
Yum. I love recipes like this. Just something that I made up on the fly one day, perhaps an unusual combination of ingredients (salami + risoni + chickpeas??).
But it just works. It’s easy to make. It’s 100% delicious and the sort of food that everybody loves!
I hope you give it a go. Let me know what you think if you do! – Nagi xx
PS OK, maybe not everybody. Not low-carbers and not gluten-free. Not vegetarians, vegans, those on low-gi or lactose free diets. But saying “this is the sort of food non-dieters without food allergies love!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. 😂
Watch how to make it
One pot chicken risoni with crispy salami (orzo)
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 100g/ 3 oz salami stick , cut into 3mm / 1/8″ thick rounds then chopped into small batons (Note 1)
- 2 x 250g / 8 oz chicken breasts (large), each cut in half horizontally to form 4 thin steaks (Note 2)
Chicken spice mix:
- 1/2 tsp cooking salt / kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp sage powder (optional)
Creamy tomato parmesan risoni (orzo):
- 2 garlic cloves , finely minced
- 1/2 onion , finely chopped
- 1/4 cup chardonnay or other dry white wine , optional (Note 3)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 1/4 cups risoni/orzo , uncooked (Note 4)
- 400g / 14 oz canned chickpeas , drained (or other beans)
- 3 cups chicken stock , low sodium (or veg stock)
- 1/2 tsp cooking / kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3/4 cup thickened / heavy cream (low-fat ok)
- 1/3 cup parmesan , finely grated (I use store bought sandy type)
- 150g/ 5 oz baby spinach (or 4 cups kale pieces)
- 1/3 cup sun dried tomato , chopped (optional) (Note 5)
- 2 tbsp roughly chopped basil (optional) (Note 5)
- Spice Mix – Mix the ingredients in a small bowl then sprinkle both sides of the chicken.
- Crispy salami – Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat. Cook the salami for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until crispy and golden. Remove into a paper towel lined bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving the tasty salami fat in the pan.
- Cook chicken – In the same pan, cook the chicken for 3 minutes on each side until dark golden and just cooked through (internal temperature 67°C/153°F). Remove onto a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
- Sauté – Still on medium high, cook the garlic and onion for 1 1/2 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the wine and let it simmer rapidly for a couple of minutes until mostly evaporated, stirring to dissolve the fond (gold bits) on the base of the pan into the wine.
- Risoni (orzo) – Add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute to cook out the sour raw flavour. Add the risoni and stir to coat in the tomato paste. Add the chickpeas, chicken stock, salt, pepper.
- Simmer – Bring to a simmer, then cook for 8 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until the risoni is just about cooked. Lower the heat to medium as it gets thicker so the base doesn't catch.
- Cream & spinach – Add the cream, parmesan, spinach and sun dried tomatoes (if using). Stir until the spinach is wilted then remove from the heat. The risoni should be oozy and tender. (Still firm? Note 6)
- Finish – Cut the chicken into thick slices. (Bit cool? Note 7) Spoon risoni into bowls. Top with the chicken, sprinkle with lots of crispy salami, parmesan and basil (if using). Dig in!
Life of Dozer
2024 is treating Dozer well. Other than a little social media blunder when I captioned the below photo “Dozer wants my thongs!”, in response to which many people laughingly pointed out that thongs means something different in other parts of the world…….!! Google thongs garment if you are a pure soul like me (though I do have horns).