New and Improved Orzo, Chicken, Peas and Saffron

12-1-11 Dinner Blog

Serving the leftovers was the way to go. Making a 3rd dish was just too much work and there was plenty of the orzo dish to go around.  I rarely serve the exact same thing twice in a row, but I am doing it today.  Will the ratings go down?  I expect a less than enthusiastic response from my daughter.
Improving My Odds
While last night’s dinner was good, I kept comparing it to the paella that I make.  So this afternoon, I took a look at the recipe and noticed that my paella includes smoked paprika.  Based on the amount of the orzo dish I had left, I added 1/2 t, mixed it in, and returned it to the refrigerator.  Time will tell…
Dinner in Minutes
Time to get dinner on.  Instead of sliced apples as I originally thought, I remembered I had cut up pineapple in the refrigerator.  I made a small spinach salad for my husband and I, topped with pineapple and pomegranate seeds, and served just the pineapple and pomegranate seeds to the kids – a small consolation for the instant replay meal…
Then I warmed the Orzo Mixture (with smoked paprika) in a soup pot and served!
The Verdict
New and Improved!  While yesterday’s dish was really good, this was fantastic!  My son and husband (who came home late, hence the empty dish above), increased their rating to 9.5.  My son, suggesting that adding shrimp would send this dish off the charts, contemplated rating tonight’s dinner a 10…  (You could also add a spicy chorizo… YUM!) My daughter, not surprisingly, thought the dinner was good but did not change her rating from yesterday.  As she said, “8.5 is a good rating, Mom.”  She doesn’t hand out 9’s and 10’s easily…  In my opinion, I agree that the meal was even better than yesterday.  I think the smoked paprika really helped blend the flavors and I will adapt the recipe accordingly.

The Recipe

Orzo with Chicken, Peas with Saffron and Smoked Paprika

Serves 6-8 ( 2 Adults and 2 Kids with leftovers for 2-3 more meals)

Adapted from “Vegetarian Entertaining”



1.5 lbs. Boneless skinless chicken breast, baked or grilled (hopefully this is leftover chicken that you cooked earlier in the week.)

2 T Olive oil

4 Shallots, minced

2 Bell Peppers chopped

3 C Canned Tomatoes or tomatoes in a non-can, shelf-stable container

1 T Saffron threads, soaked in 1/4 C warm water

1 t Smoked Paprika

1/3 C Dry White wine

3/4 lb. Orzo

2 C Frozen Peas

1 t salt

1/4 t pepper

Grated parmesan or manchenga cheese

Optional Additions

1/2 – 1 lb. Shrimp

1/2 – 1 lb. Chorizo (spicy or mild), cooked


1. Prepare the Orzo per package directions. When tender, set aside.

2.  In a large sauce pan, Sauté shallots in olive oil until soft.

3. Add bell peppers and blend.

4. Stir in tomatoes, saffron with soaking water, and White wine.

5. Simmer until most of the liquid evaporates, about 8-10 min.  Be careful not to burn the mixture.

6. Dice chicken.

7. Cook peas in microwave for 1 1/2-  2 minutes.

8. Once liquid is mostly evaporated from tomato mixture, add peas, and chicken and any optional ingredients. Chorizo should be cooked.  Shrimp will cook in 3-4 minutes in the mixture. The shrimp will turn pink when it is cooked.

9. Serve w parmesan or manchenga cheese.

10. Don’t be surprised if you start thinking about paella and a trip to Spain…  Really!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s