Skillet Greek Chicken with Orzo, Tomatoes & Feta

This was a super quick and delicious skillet dinner that was absolutely packed with flavor. I loved the colorful and fresh tomato topping. We ate it with a green salad but it truly could have been a complete meal on its own.

This recipe was adapted from Half Baked Harvest, contributed by Tieghan Gerard. I used chicken thighs, dried oregano, and capers. I also modified the method and proportions. Next time, I may substitute 10-minute farro for the orzo. Great.

Yield: Serves 6

For the Chicken & Orzo:

  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 3/4 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces (about 4 large)
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced (I used a yellow pepper)
  • 2 cups dry orzo pasta
  • 2 T capers, drained

For the Tomatoes & To Serve:

  • 2 1/2 cups mixed heirloom grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or put through a garlic press
  • kosher salt
  • 1-2 pinches/dashes red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, for serving
  1. In a large skillet, toss together the olive oil, chicken, oregano, paprika; season with salt and pepper. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
  2. Cook over medium-high heat until the chicken is browned all over and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and garlic, cook another minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the skillet.
  4. Add the bell peppers to the drippings in the skillet. Cook until soft, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the orzo and 2 1/2 cups water. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often until almost all the water is absorbed, about 5 to 10 minutes. Taste the pasta for doneness; add water and continue to cook until tender, if necessary. (I added 1/2 to 3/4 cup additional water after 5 minutes.)
  6. Stir the chicken and capers into the orzo. Allow the chicken to warm through, about 3 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes with olive oil, basil, and garlic in a bowl. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.
  8. To serve, spoon the tomatoes over the chicken and gently toss. Top with feta cheese.

Pasta with Pestocado (Avocado Pesto) & Broccoli

According to America’s Test Kitchen, Pestocado is the “hottest new ‘it’ sauce.” Avocado replaces the cheese in this full-flavored pesto. It was creamy and delicious.

The recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s cookbook, More Mediterranean, via americastestkitchen.com. I modified the method and used linguine fini, Meyer lemon, walnuts, and two garlic cloves. Easy and great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 T table salt, for cooking broccoli and pasta
  • 12 to 16 ounces broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stalks peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound spaghettini, or spaghetti
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios or walnuts, toasted and chopped, divided
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 2 tsp toasted fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (I used Meyer lemon)
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat an oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Coarsely chop.
  2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon table salt and broccoli stalks and cook for 1 minute. Add florets and cook until stalks and florets are tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Using slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to colander set over bowl (do not discard boiling water). Let broccoli drain and cool slightly, about 5 minutes; set aside.
  4. Add pasta to reserved boiling water and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot.
  5. Process 1 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, avocado, basil, 1/4 cup chopped nuts, anchovies, fennel seeds, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and coarse salt in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. With processor running, slowly add oil until incorporated, about 15 seconds.
  7. Add pesto to pasta in pot and toss until sauce evenly coats pasta, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed.
  8. Stir in remaining broccoli and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pistachios. Garnish with fresh basil and drizzle with extra oil, as desired. Serve.

Stuffed Peppers with Thai Curry Rice & Mushrooms

My friend who shared her bounty of homegrown eggplant also shared mini bell peppers from her garden. Loved it! Lucky me. 🙂 I searched for a special way to use them. These stuffed peppers were a complete success- everyone in my family enjoyed them.

This recipe was originally intended to be a vegetarian main dish using full-size red bell peppers. I used these mini peppers instead and served them as a side dish with sautéed kabocha squash and rotisserie chicken.

This dish was full-flavored and delicious. The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Emilee and Jere Gettle. Absolutely wonderful.

Yield: approximately 10 mini bell peppers or 4 full-size bell peppers

  • 10 mini bell peppers or 4 large bell peppers (any color)
  • 2 T unsalted butter or grapeseed oil 
  • 2 medium shallots, minced 
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced 
  • coarse salt 
  • 3/4 cup long-grain white rice (I used Basmati) 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk 
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger 
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste 
  • 1 large jalapeño, finely chopped with or without seeds, as desired (I ribbed and seeded the chile)
  • 8 oz cremini or oyster mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups chopped spinach (I used baby spinach)
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil, preferably Thai, plus more for garnish (I used Italian basil)
  • freshly squeezed juice from half of a large lemon
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Slice the tops off the peppers and cut the tops into 1/4-inch dice; discard the cores and stems.
  3. Boil the hollowed out peppers until just tender, about 3 minutes for mini peppers or 4 minutes for full size peppers. Using tongs, carefully transfer the peppers to paper towels to drain, cut side down. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water.
  4. Mince the shallots and garlic in a mini food processor, if desired; remove and set aside.
  5. Dice the jalapeno and pepper tops in the food processor. Set aside.
  6. In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallots and garlic, season with salt and cook over moderate heat until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until toasted, 2 to 4 minutes.
  8. Stir in the coconut milk, ginger, curry paste and the 1 1/2 cups of reserved pepper water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the liquid is absorbed, 25 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  10. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the diced bell pepper tops and the jalapeño and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until tender, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Add the mushrooms, cover and cook, stirring a few times, until tender, 5 minutes.
  12. Uncover and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are browned, 4 minutes longer.
  13. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. Add the vegetable mixture to the rice and stir in the basil and lemon juice. Season with salt to taste.
  15. Fill the peppers with the rice mixture and set them in a shallow glass, ceramic baking dish, or rimmed baking sheet. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  16. Tent with foil and bake for about 22 to 25 minutes for mini peppers or up to 45 minutes for full size peppers, until the rice filling is steaming and heated through.
  17. Garnish with basil leaves and serve.

Weeknight RagĂą

This comfort food dish was very well-received in my house. Everyone in my family was fighting over the leftovers! It was easy, full-flavored, and absolutely delicious.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions and substituted sour cream for the heavy cream. I also adjusted the consistency of the finished dish with pasta cooking water. Great.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 3/4 lbs ground pork, turkey, beef, or chicken, preferably dark meat
  • kosher salt
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 Calabrian chiles in oil, finely chopped, or 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 7 T double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 7 T sour cream or heavy cream
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs (20 to 24 oz) rigatoni, gemelli or other short pasta
  • 2 oz Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • basil leaves, for serving
  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium to medium-high.
  2. Add ground meat in 12–14 pieces (patties), spacing evenly, and season with salt.
  3. Let cook, undisturbed, until deeply browned underneath, about 3 minutes.
  4. Turn over and cook until deeply browned on opposite side, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. (It won’t be cooked through.)
  5. Add remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to pot over medium heat.
  6. Cook onion, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to turn golden around the edges, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add chiles/red pepper flakes and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until paste is slightly darkened in color, about 3 minutes.
  9. Return meat to the pot and break up into small pieces.
  10. Add sour cream/heavy cream and 2 1/4 cups water.
  11. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat, and simmer gently until liquid is reduced by one third and flavors have come together, 15–20 minutes.
  12. Season ragĂą with salt and pepper.
  13. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
  14. Add pasta to ragĂą along with 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and Parmesan.
  15. Cook, stirring and adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes.
  16. Transfer to a serving dish or individual bowls. Garnish with basil and reserved Parmesan. Serve.

Chicken & Rice with Leeks & Salsa Verde

I have a few quick weeknight meals to share- perfect for the busy holiday season. I was drawn to this dish because I had several beautiful leeks from my CSA share. I served it with roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts on the side.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Deb Perelman. I have saved a million fresh sauce recipes to make someday but, regretfully, seldom make one. :/ The salsa verde added so much to this classic comfort food dish!

Because the original recipe incorporated a lot of rice, I ultimately made a second batch of chicken and sauce to serve with the leftovers. Next time, I would double the chicken (to 3 pounds) and the sauce (2 cups of herbs) from the start. The recipe below is updated for this change.

Yield: Serves 4 (1 1/2 pounds chicken) or 8 (2 1/2 to 3 pounds of chicken)

For the Chicken & Rice:

  • 1 1/2 lbs to 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 to 3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed until water runs clear (I used Basmati rice)
  • 2 cups chicken stock with 3/4 cups water (or 2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth)

For the Salsa Verde: (make 1/2 recipe below for 1 1/2 pounds chicken)

  • 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 2 T drained capers
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups tender herb leaves (such as parsley, cilantro, basil and/or mint)
  • 8 T extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Pat the chicken thighs with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Season with salt and pepper. (My chicken thighs were very large, so I cut them in half crosswise.)
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. (I used a large, low and wide enameled cast iron pot with a glass lid.)
  3. Add leeks and half of lemon zest, season with salt and pepper, and mix to coat leeks in butter. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are somewhat tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove lid, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and just starting to take on color, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add rice and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes, then add broth, scraping up any browned bits.
  6. Nestle the chicken thighs (“skin side up”) into rice mixture. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from heat.
  7. Cut remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into small pieces and scatter over mixture. Re-cover and let sit 10 minutes.
  8. While the chicken and rice is resting, make the salsa verde. Pulse anchovies, garlic, capers, a few pinches of red pepper flakes, and remaining lemon zest in a food processor until finely chopped.
  9. Add herbs; process until a paste forms.
  10. With motor running, gradually stream in oil until loosened to a thick sauce.
  11. Add half of lemon juice; season salsa verde with salt to taste.
  12. Drizzle remaining lemon juice over chicken and rice. Serve drizzled with salsa verde.

Pesto-ish Risotto

Every fall, black swallowtail caterpillars takeover my backyard basil plants. I needed to make this basil-loaded dish before sharing my plants with them. :/

This risotto was rich, creamy, and hearty. The absolute highlight of the finished dish was the crispy garlic and pan-toasted pine nut topping. Loved it.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Christian Reynoso. I adapted the original recipe to prepare it in a pressure cooker. Easy and elegant.

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings

  • 4 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 5 to 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced, divided
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) raw pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups (loosely packed) basil leaves (from 1 large bunch), torn into 1″ pieces
  • shaved or finely grated Parmesan, for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • Parmesan rind, optional
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 5 or 7 quart pressure cooker over medium heat.
  2. Add the rice and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until grains are partially translucent, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  3. Add 2 cloves of garlic slices and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add all of the unheated stock; stir.
  5. Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat.
  6. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure. Cook for 7 minutes.
  7. Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions or place the pot under running cold water. (I used a quick release method.)
  8. Carefully open the lid, being careful of the steam. The stock should be almost completely absorbed but the rice will be covered with a thick layer of milky broth. (more stock can be added at this point if the risotto appears too thick)
  9. Meanwhile, cook the remaining 6 cloves of garlic slices, olive oil, and pine nuts in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic starts to turn golden around edges. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring often, until pine nuts and garlic are golden, about 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat; stir in turmeric and season with pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  11. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the Parmesan rind, if using, into the risotto. Season with salt, to taste.
  12. Stir the freshly squeezed lemon juice into the risotto and add freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  13. Stir basil into risotto.
  14. Ladle risotto, discarding the Parmesan rind, into shallow bowls. Top with garlic–pine nut oil and Parmesan. Serve.

Coconut Rice with Shrimp & Corn

This dish is a wonderful one-pot summer dinner. Creamy rice topped with fresh summer corn, backyard basil, and shrimp. Delicious.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Samantha Seneviratne. I modified the cooking times. I loved the fresh lime juice squeezed over the top. I may consider adding garlic next time- although it really was perfect as-is!

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped 
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice, such as jasmine rice (I used Basmati rice)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp (I used tail-on, 21-25 count per pound)
  • fresh corn kernels from 2 cobs (about 1 1/2 cups kernels), can substitute frozen
  • 1 lime, zested, then sliced into wedges for serving
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or chiffonade, plus more for garnish
  1. In a large, heavy pot (with a lid), heat coconut oil over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Add the onion, ginger and jalapeño and season with the 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and sauté for another minute.
  4. Then stir in the coconut milk and 1 1/4 cups water. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer but avoid scorching.
  5. Stir in the corn kernels and an additional 1/4 cup of water, cover again, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is cooked through and the rice is tender, 10 minutes. (Add more water by 1/4 to 1/2 cups throughout cooking as needed if the water has been absorbed, but the rice is still too firm.)
  6. When the rice is tender, add the shrimp, stir and recover. Continue to cook over low heat for and additional 2 to 4 minutes, or until shrimp is pink and fully cooked.
  7. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest and basil; season to taste with salt.
  8. Serve immediately with lime wedges and topped with more basil.

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