Orzo with Chicken, Peas and Saffron and a Side Salad

 11-30-11 Dinner Blog


Tonight’s meal preparation was a bit crazy.  My daughter was supposed to have a soccer playoff game at 6:30.  I was planning to eat early and then go to the game.  However, as is the case with schedules, things change and the game was moved up 1/2 hour, and I decided we should eat after the game.


Yesterday I made the Orzo and the tomato mixture and stored both in the refrigerator.  Earlier in the afternoon, I made the salad.  This was a great stroke of luck because my daughter’s game started late, went to two overtones and was eventually settled in penalty kicks.  (In case you are in suspense, we lost.) But instead of getting home at 7, we got home at 8!


Luckily dinner was prepared.  I just had to put it together.  I put the Orzo and tomato mixture in a soup pot with about 3/4 C of water.  As that heated, I cut the chicken and cooked the frozen peas in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Then I mixed everything together and we sat down to eat – somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes!


The Verdict

Everyone recognised the saffron taste – I use it in the paella I make. This brought up fun stories of when we made paella as well as requests to make more paella soon.  My son and husband rated the meal a 9 and 9.5 respectively.  My daughter liked it but was a bit less enthusiastic and gave it an 8.5, although she loves paella.  I think she may have been missing the shrimp and mussels which you easily could add…  Additionally, it was not an immediate slam dunk because it needed salt.  Not sure if I added it in when I made the tomato mixture yesterday – yesterday’s meal prep was a bit of a whirlwind – but I ended up adding salt to the dish after we had all tasted it.  That really made a huge difference, which makes me think I did not put it in originally.


I also served a side salad with the seeds from ½ of a pomegranate, which everyone loved.  I also added leftover mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, radishes, and bell peppers to the adult salads.  I sprinkled the no-oil balsamic vinaigrette and it was a most delicious salad!!


So my next dilemma: do I make the Pastel de Papa tonight or use up what I have? I have enough of tonight’s dinner and I have a bit of lentil soup frozen in the freezer from when I made it in October…


…I think I will save the Pastel de Papa for next week and finish off what I have.  The lentil soup will help keep the meal “new”.  I will serve a side salad to the adults and apple slices to the kids.




The Recipe

Orzo with Chicken, Peas and Saffron

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



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, paprika, 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.

9. Serve w parmesan or manchenga cheese.

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




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