Chicken and Orzo Casserole

Adapted (barely) from Giada’s Kitchen

If you’ve been reading Weekly Greens for a while, you know I don’t like the word casserole. It conjures something found at a church potluck – a bit congealed, fattening as hell and held together in its shape even when released from the serving implement. Not that I have anything against churches or potlucks, but you know what I mean. This delicious one-dish wonder covers all your food groups. Round out the meal with a simple green salad and you are good to go.

  • 3/4 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 6 extra large eggs
  • 1/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped (see tips)
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup diced fire-roasted red bell peppers (jarred)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo for about 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drizzle a little olive oil into the water to prevent sticking, then drain in a colander. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, combine eggs, ricotta and creme fraiche in a mixing bowl. Whisk until combined. Add chicken, scallions, parsley, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Fold in the orzo. Mix gently until blended.
  • Spray a baking dish (I used an oval casserole dish) with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the mixture into the dish and bake for 25 minutes. Turn the broiler on and set the dish under the broiler for another 5 minutes or so. I didn’t move it from the middle rack for this step, which worked out perfectly. The top will get browned and the edges will be bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. I’ve become a fussy ricotta consumer. I really think the handmade variety you can find at specialty markets is the very best. In this dish, you can probably get away with the regular stuff that comes in a plastic tub but if you have access to the good stuff, go for it.
  • 2. I happened to have creme fraiche on hand when I made this, but if you don’t or can’t find it, you can use low-fat sour cream or even plain Greek yogurt. Don’t use regular plain yogurt because the high water content will be too much for this recipe and it may not set properly. This is my theory and I’m just warning you.
  • 3. There are several quick ways to get a couple cups of cooked chicken if you don’t have leftovers in the fridge from earlier in the week. Since we don’t typically eat chicken more than once in a week, I almost always have to resort to an alternative unless I’ve planned very well (which I do not always do, admittedly). The fastest and easiest method is to buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and pick off the meat. If I have a little more time, I like to buy breasts with skin and bone and roast them in the oven. To do so, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a baking sheet. Rub a little olive oil all over them, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast them in the oven for 40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then chop meat into bite-sized chunks. Excellent for a dish like this or for topping salads.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 35 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4 – 6

4 responses to “Chicken and Orzo Casserole”

  1. Nikki S. says:

    This was different, but tasty. I assumed you meant to combine the cooked orzo with the egg mixture before pouring into the casserole dish. Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think the instructions indicated to do so. I ended up using sundried tomatoes instead of bell peppers because I had forgotten to buy them at the store. I’m not sure the flavor was what you intended, but it still worked. Even my husband thought it was delicious.

    • Alicia says:

      Yes, I meant to combine the orzo with the egg mixture! Updating that now. Thanks for the catch. Boy, who is editing this site anyway? :-) Sun-dried tomatoes sound like a lovely substitution. Glad your husband enjoyed, too…

  2. suzy says:

    I made the casserole this weekend. My husband and I really really liked it…the kids took some convincing. However, I’m pretty sure I used the wrong size dish. Can you tell me…what size oval casserole dish did you use? And in case I make this again without the right size dish, how high up the sides the mixture should go? Many thanks!

    • Alicia says:

      Hi Suzy! I’m glad you and your hubby were fans of this dish. Maybe the kids will come around. My oval dish is about 8″ x 10″ x 2″. It puffed up almost to the top edge of the pan. Good luck and let me know how it turns out if you try it again!

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