This Creamy Orzo Chicken with Red Peppers and Mushrooms recipe is adapted from a Food and Wine recipe that I have loved for years. And who doesn’t love a creamy pasta dish? I don’t think anyone can resist the siren’s song of a good macaroni and cheese, but upgrading elbow noodles to orzo and cheddar cheese powder to goat cheese is adulting at its finest.
Little by little, I’ve made this recipe my own, and now it is on regular rotation at my house. For me, it’s the perfect version of comfort food: creamy without being heavy. And unlike a lot of comfort foods that I reserve for those cold winter months, you can really serve it year-round.
This dish is elegant enough to serve at a dinner party as well, along with a simple green salad. I promise your dinner guests will be happy and full when you send them home, having satiated their mac n’ cheese craving without resorting to pulling the box of Kraft out of the pantry.
Recipe Tips for Chicken Orzo
- If you don’t have, or don’t want to use white wine, feel free to just use more cooking water from the pasta. Or replace with vegetable or chicken broth.
- If you don’t have herbes de provence in your pantry, you can replace with most other dried herbs: thyme, basil, oregano, tarragon. Any of those, or a combination, would work well with this dish.
- I often make a vegetarian version of this dish, which is also lovely. Just replace the chicken with firm tofu, or leave it out entirely.
Other Pasta Recipes
If creamy pasta is your jam, you might want to check out my recipe for Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pasta, which has a delicious spinach-artichoke sauce. Or try my Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Pasta recipe, in which pasta and sautéed asparagus are tossed in crème fraîche and lemon juice before being topped with smoked salmon. If you love orzo (I do!), don’t miss my Orzo Pasta Salad with Black Beans and Corn. It’s one of my go-to dishes for weekday lunches!
- 2 T. olive oil, divided
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped into 1-inch cubes
- 1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and quartered
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/2 t. herbes de provence
- 1 cup of orzo (about 6 oz.)
- 2 oz. goat cheese
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 1/4 c. dry white wine
- Chopped parsley, for garnish
- Heat 1 T. of olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Season the chicken breasts with 1/8 t. of kosher salt and black pepper, then put the chicken in the pan and brown on both sides, about 5-7 minutes per side. Continue to turn and cook the chicken breasts until they are cooked through. (They should feel firm and reach 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.) Remove chicken from pan.
- Heat 1 T. of olive oil over medium-high heat in the same pan you used for the chicken.
- Sauté the bell pepper, mushrooms, and herbes de provence with a pinch of salt. Stir frequently and cook for 5 minutes, or until mushrooms have released their liquid and are lightly browned.
- Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Cook the orzo until al dente, about 10 minutes, reserving about 1/3 cup of the pasta water at the end. While orzo is cooking, slice chicken breasts crosswise or shred. Drain orzo and set aside.
- Turn heat under the skillet to medium-high.
- Add goat cheese, cream, white wine, 1/4 cup pasta water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the pan. Simmer gently and stir until smooth. Add additional reserved pasta water if you think you will need more liquid to incorporate the orzo and chicken.
- Stir in orzo and chicken and top with chopped parsley, if desired.
You can omit the white wine if you prefer not to use (you may need to add more pasta water, or replace with chicken or vegetable broth). Also, feel free to use different herbs instead of Herbes de Provence. Thyme, oregano, basil, and tarragon would also be delicious here, or a combination of them. Note for vegetarians: this dish is lovely without the chicken as well. Feel free to substitute firm tofu instead, or leave out entirely.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 448Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 307mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 42g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.