Looking for a quick and easy weeknight dinner that's both delicious and satisfying? Try our recipe for Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce. This hearty and flavorful dish comes together in just 30 minutes and is packed with succulent chicken, tangy spinach, and a rich, creamy sauce. Serve it with a side of garlic bread or a simple green salad for a complete meal that the whole family will love.
Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce: Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinner
Today's recipe is one that is perfect for a weeknight dinner: Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce. This dish is quick and easy to make and is packed with flavor from the succulent chicken, tangy sun-dried tomatoes, and rich, creamy sauce.
What You’ll Need for Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce
To make this recipe for Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce, you will need the following ingredients:
- Orzo pasta: Orzo is a small, rice-shaped pasta that is often used in soups and salads. It has a mild flavor and a slightly delicate and chewy texture that pairs well with a variety of sauces such as this one with the Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce.
- Chicken thighs: This recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which are moist and flavorful. You can use either fresh or frozen chicken thighs for this recipe. The Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce is better with the whole piece vs chopped chicken.
- Spinach: Fresh spinach adds a pop of color and a burst of nutrients to the dish. It wilts quickly when cooked, so it's easy to incorporate into the sauce.
- Sun-dried tomatoes: Sun-dried tomatoes are tomatoes that have been dried in the sun or in a dehydrator and add a tangy and slightly sweet flavor to the dish. They are available either packed in oil or dry, so be sure to choose the type that you prefer. They give the Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce a pop!
- White wine: White wine adds depth and complexity to the sauce. Choose a wine that you enjoy drinking, as the flavor will come through in the finished dish. Choose a dry variety such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.
- Chicken broth: Chicken broth adds richness and depth of flavor to the sauce. You can use either store-bought or homemade chicken broth for this recipe.
- Heavy cream: Heavy cream gives the sauce its rich and velvety texture. You can also use half-and-half as a lighter alternative, or even milk if you want to reduce the fat content even further. Just keep in mind that using a lower-fat dairy product may result in a slightly lighter and less creamy sauce.
- 1 tsp dried basil: Basil is a fragrant, sweet herb that adds depth and complexity to the sauce.
- 1 tsp dried oregano: Oregano is a pungent, slightly bitter herb that adds a warm, earthy flavor to the sauce.
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme: Thyme is a woodsy, slightly lemony herb that adds a light, floral flavor to the sauce.
- Salt and pepper, to taste: Salt and pepper help to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients and add seasoning to the dish.
Instructions for Making Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce
To prepare this recipe for Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce, follow these instructions:
- Cook the orzo according to the package instructions. This typically involves bringing a pot of salted water to a boil, adding the orzo, and cooking it for about 8-10 minutes, or until it is tender. Drain the orzo and set it aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs and cook for about 5-7 minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set it aside.
- Add the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes in the same skillet and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the spinach has wilted.
- Add the white wine, chicken broth, and heavy cream to the skillet and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
- Stir in the grated parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, and thyme until they are fully incorporated into the sauce.
- Add the cooked orzo to the skillet and stir to combine.
- Slice the cooked chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and add them to the skillet. Stir to combine.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve the Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce immediately, garnished with additional parmesan cheese if desired.
Ideas for Serving Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce
Here are a few serving suggestions for the Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce:
- Garlic bread: Pair the orzo with a side of garlic bread for a savory and satisfying meal. Simply toast slices of baguette or Italian bread and brush them with a mixture of melted butter, minced garlic, and parsley.
- Simple green salad: A simple green salad is the perfect light and refreshing accompaniment to this rich and creamy dish. Toss together some mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and your choice of dressing for a quick and easy side.
- Roasted vegetables: Roasted vegetables make a tasty and healthy addition to this dish. Try tossing your favorite vegetables with olive oil and herbs, then roast them in the oven until they are tender and caramelized.
- Grilled asparagus: Grilled asparagus is a delicious and seasonal side that pairs well with the orzo. Simply trim the woody ends off of a bunch of asparagus, toss them with olive oil and a pinch of salt, and grill them over medium-high heat until they are tender and slightly charred.
- Sauteed mushrooms: Sauteed mushrooms add a savory and earthy flavor to the orzo. Simply slice some mushrooms and saute them in a pan with butter or oil until they are golden brown and caramelized.
- Fried egg: For a protein-packed twist, try topping each serving of orzo with a fried egg. The creamy yolk will add an extra layer of richness to the dish.
- Sauteed greens: For a healthy and colorful side, try serving the orzo with a side of sauteed greens such as kale, chard, or broccoli.
- Grilled vegetables: For a summery twist, try grilling some vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplant and serving them alongside the orzo. Overall, the possibilities for serving this dish are endless, so feel free to get creative and try out different combinations!
Make it Your Own
Here are a few variations on the recipe for Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce:
- Different types of pasta: You can use any small, shapely pasta in this recipe, such as farfalle, rotini, or fusilli.
- Other vegetables: You can add other vegetables to this dish to add more flavor and nutrients. Try adding diced bell peppers, sliced mushrooms, or diced zucchini to the saucepan along with the chicken and spinach.
- Shrimp: Instead of chicken, you can use diced cooked shrimp in this recipe. Simply saute the shrimp in the saucepan until they are pink and cooked through.
- Sausage: You can use diced cooked sausage in place of the chicken in this recipe. Simply saute the sausage in the saucepan until it is browned and cooked through.
- Vegan version: To make this recipe vegan, you can use tofu or tempeh in place of the chicken, and use non-dairy milk or broth in place of the heavy cream. You can also omit the parmesan cheese or use a vegan parmesan alternative.
Tips for Cooking Orzo
Here are a few tips for cooking the orzo for this recipe:
- Use plenty of water: Orzo tends to absorb a lot of water, so be sure to use plenty of water when cooking it. A general rule of thumb is to use at least 4 quarts of water per pound of pasta.
- Salt the water: Don't forget to add a pinch of salt to the boiling water before adding the orzo. This will help to season the pasta and give it a better flavor.
- Stir the orzo occasionally: To prevent the orzo from sticking together, be sure to stir it occasionally while it cooks.
- Test the orzo for doneness: The best way to tell if the orzo is done is to taste it. The orzo is ready when it is tender but still has a slight bite to it.
- Drain the orzo well: Once the orzo is cooked, be sure to drain it well in a colander to remove any excess water. This will help to prevent the orzo from becoming mushy when it is mixed with the sauce.
Storing and Reheating
To store and reheat leftovers of this recipe for Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce, follow these tips:
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- To reheat the leftovers, place the desired amount in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on medium power for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat the leftovers in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are heated through.
- If the leftovers seem dry or stiff after reheating, you can add a splash of chicken broth or milk to moisten them up.
- If you want to freeze the leftovers for longer storage, place them in a freezer-safe container and freeze them for up to 3 months. To thaw and reheat the leftovers, transfer them to the refrigerator the night before you plan to eat them. Then, follow the instructions for reheating on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Here is a rough estimate of the nutrition information for one serving of this recipe for Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce:
- Calories: 486
- Total fat: 22g
- Saturated fat: 11g
- Cholesterol: 143mg
- Sodium: 707mg
- Total carbohydrate: 39g
- Dietary fiber: 3g
- Sugar: 5g
- Protein: 31g
This nutrition information is based on using 2 cups of orzo pasta, 2 tbsp olive oil, 4 large chicken thighs, 1 cup heavy cream, and 1 cup grated parmesan cheese. Please keep in mind that this information is just an estimate and the actual values may vary depending on the exact ingredients and amounts used.
Here are a few pairing suggestions for this recipe for Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce:
- White wine: A crisp, dry white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio would complement the flavors of this dish perfectly.
- Light beer: A light, refreshing beer such as a lager or pilsner would be a great choice to pair with this creamy and flavorful orzo dish.
- Iced tea: For a non-alcoholic option, a refreshing iced tea would be a great choice to cleanse the palate between bites.
- Sparkling water: If you're looking for a bubbly and refreshing drink to go with this dish, try a glass of sparkling water.
- Lemonade: A tall glass of cold lemonade would be a refreshing and tangy pairing for this creamy orzo dish.
Try it Out Tonight
In conclusion, this recipe for Orzo with Chicken and Spinach in a Parmesan Cream Sauce is a delicious and satisfying meal that is perfect for a weeknight dinner. It is easy to prepare and full of flavor, thanks to the combination of tender chicken thighs, creamy sauce, and savory herbs and spices. The orzo adds a unique and satisfying texture to the dish, and the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes add pops of color and flavor. This recipe is sure to become a family favorite, and it is versatile enough to be adapted to your own preferences and dietary needs. Whether you're a seasoned cook or just starting out in the kitchen, this recipe is a great choice for a tasty and satisfying meal. So why wait? Give this recipe a try and see for yourself just how delicious it is!