Orzo For All Seasons

The weather in New York is playing tricks on me and I do not appreciate it. It’s 90%uFFFDF one day and 40%uFFFD the next. This troubles me in more ways then one. Not only have I been duped into keeping out my winter sweaters for a few more weeks, I’ve also been forced to rethink my spring cooking. I generally eat lighter foods come spring and summer, but in this weather I’ve been craving dishes that are hearty and hot. Enter Chicken Tomato Orzo.—

I love this dish because the flavors are simple and warm without being overly heavy or greasy. It is perfect for Naptime Chef-ing, I prefer to make it in its entirety during the afternoon and let it rest before reheating. This allows the flavors to marry and ripen for a few hours similar to way a soup or stew does.

There are also a few variations you could make with dish. I make it with chicken but shrimp would work just as well. If you don’t like feta, just use goat cheese instead. There are almost infinite possibilities to the herbs you could try, they all taste wonderful in this rich tomato broth.

When I made this the other day I was reminded how much I like warm soups and pastas to keep us warm and healthy on these cooler days. When I was eating leftovers for lunch the next afternoon I was also reminded that this dish is great cold and would be fantastic to take to a picnic in the park. Now, if only the weather would warm back up so we can have one.

Chicken Tomato Orzo with Feta

1 c. dry orzo pasta

3 t. olive oil

1 c. onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 c. white wine

1 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes, juices reserved

1 t. dried oregano

1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 t. Kosher salt

1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes

1 t. fresh basil, chopped

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into narrow strips

3/4 c. feta cheese

1. In a pot of salted boiling water, cook orzo according to directions. Drain, set aside.

2. In a large, deep skillet heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic, cook until soft and translucent. About 5 minutes.Add white wine, boil off alcohol. About 1 minute.

3. Add tomatoes, without the juices. Break the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon. Then, add reserved tomato juice, oregano, pepper, salt and red pepper.

4. Add chicken strips and simmer for about 6 minutes, until sauce starts to thicken and chicken is cooked through. When chicken is cooked through, add orzo and mix well with the sauce. Stir in fresh basil. When it is all incorporated finish the dish by mixing in feta and serve.

Naptime Notes:

Naptime Recipe Props: This recipe is perfect for Naptime Chef-ing because it is infinitely flexible. You can substitute shrimp for chicken if you’d like, and you can feel free to play with different herbs to adjust the flavoring. Once, in a pinch, I used diced tomatoes instead of whole-peeled and they worked just as well. If you don’t like feta, use goat cheese instead.

Naptime Stopwatch: This dish takes about 30 minutes to make in its entirety. During naptime you can either make the whole thing, or at least chop the onions so you can put it all together at dinner time. If you make it in the afternoon be sure to cover it with a lid or plastic wrap while it rests.

Naptime Reviews: This dish is a big hit with my whole family. The flavors are simple and delicious, which even my daughter appreciates!

Kelsey of The Naptime Chef