Everyday Food offers some of the best recipes for those looking to throw together a quick but flavorful dinner. When I was flipping through the June issue, I dog-eared this particular recipe because I love orzo. And I decided to make it because I knew I could easily add my own touches -- like feta crumbles and asparagus coins.
Lemon-Oregano Grilled Chicken With Feta And Orzo (adapted from Everyday Food, June 2010)
Serves 4 (or 2 with leftovers for the next night)
4 chicken cutlets (about 1 pound total)
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 sprigs plus 4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/2 lemon, quartered, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus wedges for serving
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup orzo
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
3 ounces crumbled feta
In a large bowl, combine chicken, garlic, oregano springs, and two teaspoons chopped oregano. Add lemon quarters, squeezing juices into the bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
While chicken is marinating, prepare the asparagus. If you have a mandoline, use it to make asparagus coins, which look really fancy but are so simple. Hold a handful of asparagus stalks at a time, and pull them across the mandoline blade to produce small circles or coins. Otherwise, just chop the asparagus into small pieces. And chop the tips into small pieces because you won't be able use the mandoline on those.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Add the asparagus coins to the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat just until the asparagus is softened (or cook to the consistency you like). Set aside.
Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the orzo.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, and grill about 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on thickness of cutlets. Transfer to a platter, and keep warm.
Once water comes to a boil, cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and stir into asparagus coins. Mix in 2 teaspoons chopped oregano, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place a chicken cutlet and a large spoonful of the orzo mixture on each plate. Top orzo with toasted hazelnuts and crumbled feta.
This goes down as one of my favorite quick dinners. The fresh oregano and lemon add bold, bright flavor to something as simple as grilled chicken. And orzo is a nice change from something like rice or potatoes, especially when it's dolled up with asparagus coins, feta, and toasted hazelnuts. The dish is also pretty versatile. Sliced or slivered toasted almonds would be very tasty if you wanted to swap out the hazelnuts. And you could always mix the orzo with the old standbys: broccoli and cheddar. I like it just the way we had it.
Quick tip for washing herbs: Submerge them in a small bowl of cool water, and swish them around a little. The dirt should come off and sink to the bottom of the bowl. Remove the herbs and dry them with a paper towel.
Do you have a favorite orzo dish? I'd love to hear about it!
I'll try to announce the Olivia's Organics coupon winner tomorrow. Stay tuned.
We're headed to the Maroon 5 concert tonight! Anyone else going? I saw them at the TD Garden a couple years ago and loved them, so I'm looking forward to seeing them at the Bank of America Pavilion, which is my favorite venue around here because it provides a smaller, more intimate setting. And also, who doesn't want to hear Owl City sing "Fireflies" live? Ha ha. We're grabbing dinner at Legal Test Kitchen beforehand. I hope it's good -- I've never been there before.